Archive | Art

Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought – Now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

From the very first chapters of the Torah where one encounters them in the Garden of Eden, to the commandment Bal Tashchit (do not destroy) found in Deuteronomy forbidding their wanton destruction during wartime, trees occupy a particularly potent and symbolic place in Jewish literature and lore as expressions of paradise, regeneration, shelter, the bounty of the earth, longevity, and even as a precursor to the coming of the Messiah.

Now through May 28th, a new three-part exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought, explores the role of the tree in Jewish tradition and beyond through the lens of contemporary artists, offering fresh perspectives on ritual practice and our connection to the natural world.

The companion exhibitions include the continuation of The Dorothy Saxe Invitational, an exhibition series in which artists from diverse backgrounds and working in a range of media are invited to explore Jewish ritual objects (this year focusing on the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for the Trees), as well as a selection of work examining the tree more widely in contemporary art practice by international artists including Gabriela Albergaria, Zadok Ben David, Joseph Beuys, April Gornik, Charles Labelle, Rodney Graham, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Yoko Ono, Roxy Paine, Tal Shochat, and more. The third component is the expansion of the exhibition beyond the walls of the Museum on to the Jessie Square Plaza with a commission by the San Francisco-based environmental design firm Rebar. Click here for more information: CJM

april-gornik-light-in-the-woods-2011April Gornik, Light in the Woods, 2011

“While we were inspired to create this exhibition by the particular significance of trees in Judaism, especially now as global environmental concerns have begun to impact contemporary Jewish practice, the tree is a universally potent symbol in many cultures and religions,” says curator Dara Solomon. “Taken together, these exhibitions are an opportunity for everyone to commune with trees through video, photography, sculpture and painting – to be awed by their scale, their longevity, and their ability to encourage deeper thinking about history, the environment, and our place in it. We invite the public to consider the ancient dictum of Do Not Destroy, a commandment to not only protect trees but to dream of a better world.”

Building upon the Museum’s long-standing tradition of asking artists from a variety of backgrounds to explore a Jewish ceremonial object, holiday, or concept within the context of their own mediums and artistic philosophy, over 50 contemporary artists from across the United States have created new works of art in response to a broad range of themes inspired by the holiday Tu B’Shevat (the New Year for the Trees).

Tu B’Shevat, a minor holiday that falls in the middle of winter, has become increasingly important for many Jews, especially here in the Bay Area, who have integrated faith and concern for the natural environment in a practice of environmental Tikkun Olam (making the world a better place). Originally a 2nd century holiday necessary for tithing crops to the temple, Tu B’Shevat was revived in the 16th century by mystical Kabbalists who observed the holiday with a feast of fruits in a special vegan seder that celebrated the life-giving properties of trees. In the 20th century, the meaning of the holiday shifted again as the planting of trees in Israel became crucial to inhabiting the land and gaining independence. Today, Tu B’Shevat has gained momentum with young Jews in particular who connect with Judaism through environmentalism and social justice.

For the exhibition, each participating artist was asked to incorporate reclaimed wood into their work in some way. San Francisco designer Yves Behar fashioned the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, from a piece of bay laurel driftwood found on the beach at Bolinas. Behar’s piece is meant to suggest a reordering of our priorities. “Our awareness of nature needs to be first, like the first letter Aleph,” says Behar.

Colorado sculptor Yoshitomo Saito used a found aspen root as the basis for a work in bronze. Saito discovered that this iconic Colorado tree spreads through a root system that supports a colony of trees. While an individual tree may only live for 40-150 years above ground, the root system can survive for thousands of years. Says Saito, “The aspen root … represents not only the foundation of life but also means of survival and thriving of community.”

yoshitomo-saito-aspen-roots-for-tu-be28099shevat-2011Yoshitomo Saito, Aspen Roots for Tu B’Shevat, 2011

Also echoing this idea of endurance and its opposite, fragility, is a piece by Stanford-based artist Gail Wight who has fashioned handmade paper–a delicate and ephemeral medium–on which she has created an image of a cross section from a Devonian tree from over 400 million years ago.

Luke Bartels, a member of the Woodshop collective in San Francisco’s Sunset district, contributed a piece entitled The Wood Standard. The piece, a stack of wood shaped like bars of gold, questions the manner of ascribing value to particular materials over others–in this case positing trees or wood as valuable as gold.

Michigan artist Lynne Avadenka took inspiration from a verse in the Book of Psalms that equates happiness, equanimity, and faith with a tree: “And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water that brings forth fruit in its season and whose leaf will not wither.” Avadenka used twigs from a fallen elm in front of her house to write out the Hebrew words of this passage, photographing them and fusing the images onto glass tiles.

yuken-teruya-the-giving-tree-project-2006Yuken Teruya, The Giving Tree Project, 2006

San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon was most interested in the symbolism associated with the Tu B’Shevat seder, and particularly the progression of four glasses of wine, from white to rose to red, that are part of the ritual feast. Made up of rows of triangles of reclaimed wood, the piece reflects on the layers of meaning she saw in the wine: “feminine to masculine, light to dark, creation and growth.”

Additionally, the Museum is working with Israeli artist/designer Dov Abramson to create an installation exploring how Jewish life and the cycles of trees are intertwined. This graphic wall will take visitors through an orchard of images, ideas, and language that illuminate the Jewish relationship to trees through ancient texts, contemporary rituals, and mystical ideas.

The exhibition catalog, Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought is available in the CJM Museum Store and online. The tree is a universally potent symbol with particular significance in Judaism, especially now as global environmental concerns have begun to impact contemporary Jewish practice. Written by CJM Curator Dara Solomon, with essays by Jeremy Benstein and Mary Jane Jacob. The catalog includes images of each piece of art featured in the exhibition. Click here to order on-line; Do Not Destroy

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MAMMA MIA! – Diggin’ the Dancing Queen, now at the Orpheum Theatre

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Arts Contributor
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

MAMMA MIA! opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 18, 2001 and stayed there less than seven months through May 4th. The next day the show’s very simple and portable revolving sets scooted over to the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre where it resumed the following day and stayed through New Year’s Eve 2006. By New Year’s Day it had returned to the other Winter Garden and opened promptly somewhere around 8:10, as it will again tonight and in seven other locations around the world and in a variety of languages. Amazing. That translates to a helluva lotta work for an enormous amount of performers appearing in any of its leading roles, supporting roles, and ensemble positions whether on Broadway or in any of the national and international touring companies. “Way-to-go!” Composer/lyricists Benny Anderssn and Björn Ulvaeus and the author of the show’s book, Catherine Johnson, shuffled her flimsy storyline together with the greatest hits of ABBA and created a juke-box-variety show that eventually earned the tag, “the ultimate feel-good musical”. Moreover, the show’s finale has a built-in obligatory standing ovation and you really don’t want to be the only one left sitting lest anyone think you really don’t feel good and/or are ultimately resistant to the infectious Spirit. That, too, is amazing.

happy-mahaney-and-chloe-tuckerHappy Mahaney and Chloe Tucker

But, after more than a decade’s worth of contrived ovations, pseudo Disco lights, cardboard sets, and all the imitation Pop/Rock vocals from whoever is playing whichever part tonight – even the most cult-variety die-hard fan could sense the ho-hum response on the applause meter at the Opening Night performance. No matter how many yards of glimmering silver lamé are involved or the level of squealing perkiness behind the corny bits of humor – it’s, like, totally amazing how really lack-luster the greatest hits of ABBA can become, especially when backed by the unrelenting one-dimensional nature of synthesized sound in the cavernous Orpheum Theatre where monaural output is very alive and well.

The show runs through March 4th. Click here to watch the trailer and to purchase tickets on-line: MAMMA MIA

See related articles:

MAURICE – An Interview with Soren Santos and Alex Kirschner, now at New Conservatory Theatre Center

FIRST U.S. LOOK AT ANDREW LLYOD WEBBER’S LOVE NEVER DIES

KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with “The Diva” of Teatro ZinZanni

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NAPOLEON (1927) – Carl Davis conducts the Oakland East Bay Symphony

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present the U.S. premiere of Abel Gance’s legendary silent epic NAPOLEON in its complete restoration by Academy Award-winning historian, documentarian, and archivist Kevin Brownlow, in four special screenings at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on March 24, 25 and 31 and April 1, 2012. The screenings also mark the U.S. premiere of the orchestral score by composer Carl Davis, who will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony. The Davis score may be the longest continuous film music ever composed and conducted. The occasion marks the first time in nearly 30 years since NAPOLEON has been screened in America, in any form and with full orchestra.

napoleon-e28093-directed-by-abel-gance-1927NAPOLEON – Directed by Abel Gance (1927)

The SFSFF’s spectacular presentation at the 3,000-seat, Art Deco Oakland Paramount will be climaxed by its finale in “Polyvision” – an enormous triptych, employing three specially-installed synchronized projectors, that will dramatically expand the screen to triple its width (25 years later, the American process Cinerama would employ a very similar system). Each screening will begin in the afternoon and will be shown in four parts with three intermissions, including a dinner break. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: NAPOLEON

The Brownlow restoration, produced with his partner Patrick Stanbury at Photoplay Productions in association with the BFI, is the most complete version of Gance’s masterpiece since its 1927 premiere at the Paris Opéra. The is undoubtedly the U.S. film world’s most long-anticipated event: because of the enormous expense and technical challenges of properly presenting the epic film, it has taken Brownlow and company three decades to mount American screenings with the magnificent Davis score, which has previously been performed only in Europe.

albert-dieudonne-e28093-as-napoleonALBERT DIEUDONNÉ – as Napoleon

pierre-batcheff-e28093-as-general-lazare-hoche-center-2nd-from-leftPIERRE BATCHEFF – As Général Lazare Hoche (center, 2nd from left)

A four-hour version of Napoleon was screened in the early 1980s at the Castro Theatre. Francis Ford Coppola sponsored this triumphant road show of the shorter version which contained its Polyvision finale and a score composed by his father Carmine. Kevin Brownlow, who last year became the first film historian ever honored with a special Academy Award, became fascinated with Gance’s film when still a schoolboy in London in the 1950s. “I was stunned by the cinematic flair,” says Brownlow. “I was exhilarated by the rapid cutting and the swirling camera movement. What daring! I had never seen anything comparable – and I set out to find more of it.” That determination led to a lifelong quest.

director-abel-gance-and-kevin-brownlow-1967Director Abel Gance and Kevin Brownlow, 1967 (Photo, Photoplay Productions)

The first major Brownlow/BFI restoration culminated in a screening at Telluride Film Festival in 1979, with 89-year-old Gance watching from a nearby hotel window. Under the auspices of Coppola and Robert A. Harris, a version of this restoration ran at Radio City Music Hall and other venues in the U.S. and around the world in the early 1980s. Brownlow did additional restoration work in 1983.

antonin-artaud-e28093-as-marat1ANTONIN ARTAUD – as Marat

The current restoration reclaims about 30 minutes of footage culled from archives around the world and visually upgrades much of the film. This unique 35mm print uses the original dye-bath techniques, accurately recreating the color tints and tones of the initial release prints and giving a vividness to the image as never before experienced in this country.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival was founded in 1994 to demonstrate the artistry, diversity, and enduring cultural value of silent movies, and to make sure these rare and vulnerable films remain accessible to current and future audiences. Today, SFSFF is an internationally recognized presenter of silent film with live music, renowned for the artistic and technical quality of its presentation, and for its masterful blend of art, scholarship, and showmanship. The organization produces the largest annual silent film festival outside of Italy, which has become a destination for filmmakers, historians, archivists, and other industry professionals and continues to attract thousands of film fans every year. While its annual July festival remains its flagship event, the SFSFF now hosts “live cinema” productions throughout the year. NAPOLEON is its most ambitious undertaking yet.

Founded in 1988, Oakland East Bay Symphony is a critically acclaimed community-focused regional orchestra dedicated to serving the diverse population of the East Bay. It has gained regional and national recognition for its unique convergence of artistic excellence, community service and education programs. Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Michael Morgan, OEBS reaches over 60,000 people annually, with more than one-third of its operating budget dedicated to education and outreach programs. On the concert stage, OEBS has become an important positive force in bringing together the talents and resources of diverse artists, performing arts organizations and audiences from throughout the Bay Area.

Composer/conductor Carl Davis (CBE) was born in New York in 1936 and came to the U.K. in 1960. Davis is a true music-maker and all-round musician, as both conductor and composer. He has changed the face of concerts as we know them, making classical music both accessible and varied and is a consummate showman and entertainer. His career has spanned many genres, from silent film performances to his popular themed concerts such as ”An Evening with James Bond” and “Oscar Winners”. He is perhaps most well known for his music for television including the series The World At War, BBC’s Pride & Prejudice, ITV’s Goodnight Mr. Tom, and the award-winning film The French Lieutenant’s Woman. For over 30 years, he’s been a frequent collaborator with Kevin Brownlow, both as the composer of the soundtrack music for such acclaimed documentaries as Hollywood, The Unknown Chaplin, and Cinema Europe, and as the composer/conductor of such “live cinema” events as Ben-Hur, The Wind, Flesh and the Devil, and many others. He considers his Napoleon score one of his proudest achievements.

SEE RELATED ARTICLES

“HE WHO GETS SLAPPED” – A conversation with composer and pianist Matti Bye

“CASABLANCA” – The SF Symphony accompanies screening tonight, 7/22

CAMERON CARPENTER – International Superstar Organist plays “Phantom of the Opera” at Davies Symphony Hall

“Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien” – At Davies Symphony Hall, Featuring Damian Smith of SF Ballet, January 12th–14th

MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA – Accompanies Opening Night of the 14th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival

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DAVID STRATHAIRN – Emmy Award winner returns to A.C.T. in “Scorched”

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) introduces a celebrated Middle Eastern voice to the Bay Area with the West Coast premiere of Wajdi Mouawad’s haunting play, SCORCHED. After receiving more than 100 productions in several languages worldwide, the Lebanese-Canadian writer’s new play will be directed at A.C.T. by Artistic Director Carey Perloff in a beautiful translation from the original French by distinguished Canadian author Linda Gaboriau. Leading the cast is David Strathairn. Recipient of both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award, Strathairn garnered an Oscar nomination for his performance as “Edward R. Murrow” in Good Night, and Good Luck.” His familiar film and television roles include “Pierce Patchett” in L.A. Confidential (1997), “Jumpin’ Joe Gastineau” in Limbo (1999), “Robert Wegler” on The Sopranos, “William Flynn” in No God, No Master (2011), and “Dr. Lee Rosen” on Alphas.

david-strathairnDAVID STRATHAIRN

The plot of Scorched concerns a set of twins, Janine and Simon, are given two letters following their mother’s death which contain clues about their family’s mysterious past. They embark on an unforgettable journey to the Middle East in search of the father and brother they never knew they had. Scorched weaves its riveting mystery into a captivating tapestry, inviting us to slowly unravel an astonishing truth amidst chaos and conflict. Scorched opens Wednesday, February 22nd and plays through Friday, March 16th at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Scorched

david-strathairn-and-babak-taftiDavid Strathairn and Babak Tafti. Photo, Kevin Berne

“Scorched continues our deep relationship with the cutting edge of Canadian theater, and brings the turmoil and tribalism of the Middle East to the forefront for the first time at A.C.T.,” says Perloff. This riveting play has entranced audiences across the globe and was turned into a feature film with the title Incendies, which was nominated for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Perloff adds, “Mouawad is a major new writer whose work is acclaimed internationally but relatively unknown in the United States; A.C.T. is thrilled to introduce him to the Bay Area. Scorched is a Greek tragedy for our time, incredibly imaginative and provocative, and will be brought to life at A.C.T. by a company of remarkable Middle Eastern actors as well as four of our amazing core acting company members and the incomparable David Strathairn, whose deep humanity and self-deprecating wit will form the lens through which we witness this moving and surprising story.”

Strathairn plays bumbling notary public “Alphonse Lebel”, who acts as a guide to the two twins as they try to unearth the truth about their family. The Emmy Award winner last appeared on the A.C.T. stage as “Prospero” in The Tempest, which was the inaugural production at the American Conservatory Theater after it re-opened in 1996 following the devastation of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Strathairn has a long-standing artistic relationship with Perloff, having appeared in numerous Classic Stage Company productions in New York City when she was leading the institution. A.C.T. core acting company member Annie Purcell and Babak Tafti play the twins at the heart of the story, tracing the mystery of their mother, played at various ages by Marjan Neshat and Jacqueline Antaramian. They are joined by Apollo Dukakis and members of A.C.T.’s core acting company Manoel Felciano, Nick Gabriel, and Omozé Idehenre.

david-straithairn-carey-perloff-and-anthony-fuscoDavid Straithairn, Carey Perloff and Anthony Fusco – “Pursuing Pinter”

SEE RELATED ARTICLES:

LORENZO PISONI – A.C.T. extends “Humor Abuse”

CAREY PERLOFF – A.C.T.’s Artistic Director receives prestigious award

“ONCE IN A LIFETIME” – A Charming Comedy at A.C.T.

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NATHAN GUNN – Baritone to be honored by San Francisco Opera Guild, March 23rd

San Francisco Opera Guild hosts An Evening of Enchantment, Friday, March 23rd at The Fairmont, San Francisco. The black-tie gala will honor internationally renowned baritone Nathan Gunn, who will be performing the role of “Papageno” in San Francisco Opera’s upcoming new production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The event’s Honorary Chairman, Nathan Gunn, is acclaimed not only for his operatic roles, but also for his brilliant work in musical theater and as a distinguished concert performer. All proceeds support the award-winning education and community outreach programs of San Francisco Opera Guild that reach more than 55,000 young people in 200 schools throughout Northern California every year.

nathan-gunnNATHAN GUNN

The celebratory evening will commence at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction in the Crown Room. At 8:00 p.m., guests will proceed to the elegant Gold Room for a lavish dinner, brief live auction, and special performance by Nathan Gunn. At 10 p.m., guests will celebrate with a toast to San Francisco Opera’s Summer season and dancing to Bill Hopkins Rock’n Orchestra. In addition, guests at the Patron Level and above will be invited to attend an exclusive VIP reception with Nathan Gunn in the magnificent Fairmont Penthouse Suite that evening. Click here for more information: GALA

The event Honorary Committee comprises of major supporters and patrons, including Jean-Pierre L. Conte; General Director of San Francisco Opera, David Gockley; Leslie and George Hume; Cathy and Angus MacNaughton; Teresa and Mark Medearis; Diane Rubin and Honorary Chairman Nathan Gunn. Event Co-Chairs are Shannon Cronan and Jane S. Mudge.

the-barber-of-sevilleTHE BARBER OF SEVILLE – Nathan Gunn as “Figaro”, Photo by Terrance McCarthy

About Nathan Gunn

Nathan Gunn made his San Francisco Opera debut as Figaro in the 2003 production of The Barber of Seville, a role that he reprised in 2006. He subsequently returned to the Company in the title role of Billy Budd and as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. This summer he appears as his appearance as Papageno The Magic Flute and Yeshua in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s http://sfopera.com/Season-Tickets/2012-2013-Season/The-Gospel-of-Mary-Magdalene.aspx in 2013. In January 2010 Nathan sang a spectacular rendition of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin at the Herbst Theatre accompanied by his wife Julie.

Nathan has appeared at major opera houses and festivals around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. His many roles include the title role of Hamlet; the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucetia, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, and Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. A frequent interpreter of new works, Gunn recently created the role of Paul in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Amelia at the Seattle Opera. He also created the roles of Alec Harvey in André Previn’s Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Father Delura in Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera. Also a distinguished concert performer, Gunn has appeared the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Rundfunkorchster, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Gunn’s most recent solo album, Just Before Sunrise, was released on Sony/BMG Masterworks.

julie-and-nathan-gunn-e28093-in-recital-schuberts-die-schone-mullerinJULIE and NATHAN GUNN – In Recital, Schubert’s “Die Schöne Müllerin”

Other recordings include the title role in Billy Budd with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra (Virgin Classics), which recently won the 2010 Grammy Award. He sings the role of “Joe” in the first complete recording of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Allegro; Peter Grimes with Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live!) and nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award; Il Barbiere di Siviglia (SONY Classics); Kullervo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc); and American Anthem (EMI). He also starred as Buzz Aldrin in Man on the Moon, an opera written specifically for television and broadcast on the BBC in the UK. The program was awarded the Golden Rose Award for Opera at the Montreux Festival in Lucerne. Gunn recently returned to the Metropolitan Opera for Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute and made his debuts at the Theater an der Wien in The Rape of Lucretia, the Teatro Real in Madrid as the Count, and the Cincinnati Opera in the title role of Eugene Onegin.

The Summer 2012 Season at San Francisco Opera will feature three productions never before seen in San Francisco, opening on Friday, June 8th with the long-awaited Bay Area premiere of Nixon In China by Bay Area composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman. The season continues with the San Francisco debut of a co-production of Verdi’s Atilla, which premiered at La Scala in Summer 2011 and is conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti. The Summer Season concludes with the premiere of a new one-of-a-kind production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, sung in English and created by renowned Japanese-American visual artist Jun Kaneko and directed by Harry Silverstein. San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2012 Season runs June 8th through July 8th at the War Memorial Opera House.

the-magic-fluteTHE MAGIC FLUTE – Nathan Gunn as “Papageno”

About San Francisco Opera Guild
Founded in 1939 to support arts education and San Francisco Opera,

San Francisco Opera Guild

has acted on its belief that the life lessons drawn from creative expression are the foundation of confidence and integrity. Celebrating 70 years of offering award winning K-12 education programs and engaging community outreach programs, its mission is to give voice to potential, extending the impact of opera and bringing it center stage into the life of the community. Each year, through San Francisco Opera Guild’s fundraising and education fund, more than 55,000 students in 200 schools throughout Northern California discover the power of arts education to help them find their voice.

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Oakland East Bay Symphony to “Heros and Giants”

HEROS AND GIANTS Program Features WIlliam Harvey, Principal Trumpet

william-harvey
Focusing on works by two of the brightest figures in a generation of European musicians whose careers were prematurely terminated by the rise of the Nazi regime, and Music Director Michael Morgan will present Heroes and Giants
at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on February 24th at 8:00 pm. Erwin Schulhoff and Mieczyslaw Weinberg created dynamic, unique works in climates of despair. Schulhoff was one of the first European classical composers to be inspired by jazz before his premature death in a concentration camp, and Weinberg survived years of imprisonment under Stalin to create one of the finest trumpet concertos in the musical repertoire. Oakland East Bay Symphony’s own William Harvey will help bring Weinberg’s trumpet concerto to life by serving as the featured soloist on this inspiring work. A third piece, Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, will complete a musical evening of challenging, sublime music. An informative pre-concert talk by John Kendall Bailey will begin at 7:00 pm.

William Harvey has been Principal Trumpet of the Oakland East Bay Symphony since 2001. An active freelance performer, Mr. Harvey is also Principal Trumpet of Opera San José and is affiliated with the California Symphony, Lamplighters Musical Theatre, Festival Opera, and American Bach Soloists. Previous experience includes positions with Western Opera Theater, Modesto Symphony, Sarasota Opera, and the Epic Brass Quintet. From 1991 to 1994 he was Sub-principal Trumpet of the Cape Town Symphony in South Africa. An East Bay native and Oakland resident, Mr. Harvey is a graduate of Boston University where he studied with Roger Voisin and members of the Empire Brass, attended San Francisco State University where he studied with Donald Reinberg, and is a graduate of Berkeley High School where he was a member of that school’s award-winning Jazz Ensemble. Other private instructors include Arnold Jacobs, Laurie McGaw and Edward Haug. He has participated in the Aspen, Chautauqua and Spoleto Festivals as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival.

The Program

ERWIN SCHULHOFF
Suite for Chamber Orchestra (1920) – Czech composer and pianist Erwin Schulhoff died in the Wülzburg concentration camp. He was one of the first classical composers in Europe to be inspired by jazz.

MIECZYSLAW WEINBERGConcerto for Trumpet, Op. 94 (1967) – Weinberg lost most of his family in the Holocaust but survived the torments of two brutal dictatorships. He fled the German occupation of Poland in 1939, only to fall victim to Stalin’s post-war campaign against the Jews. He was released after years of imprisonment, and later created one of the finest trumpet concertos ever written. OEBS Principal Trumpet William Harvey is the featured soloist in this inspiring work.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 3 – Now known as the “Eroica”, was originally written in honor of Napoleon and titled “Bonaparte”. However, when Napoleon declared himself Emperor in 1804, Beethoven was enraged and changed the name of his work. The “Eroica” is known as one of Beethoven’s most challenging masterpieces – long, technically demanding and sublime.

ABOUT OEBS

Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Michael Morgan
, Oakland East Bay Symphony activities reach over 75,000 people annually, with more than one-third of the operating budget dedicated to education and outreach programs. These programs include several acclaimed education programs under the umbrella of the MUSE (Music for Excellence) Program: In-School Mentor and Instrumental Instruction, Young People’s Concerts, Ensembles in the Schools, Young Artist Competition, Free Ticket Distribution and regular school visits by Michael Morgan and other musicians. These programs serve over 21,000 young people each year.

OEBS has fostered collaborations with local arts organizations from children’s choruses to jazz ensembles to dance and opera. The Symphony showcases new American works in performance and encourages young artists. In its efforts to support new music, OEBS formed a multi-year partnership with The James Irvine Foundation in 1998 to initiate various commissioning projects including the newly established New Visions/New Vistas initiative. In June of 2010, OEBS forged a closer partnership with Oakland Youth Orchestra and Oakland Symphony Chorus in a merger that resulted in the formation of East Bay Performing Arts.

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Name Project Quilt Returns to SF


SAN FRANCISCO’S CASTRO DISTRICT HOSTS LARGEST SHOWING OF AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT IN 25 YEARS

images

To occur the week of Valentine’s Day, free exhibition will honor those loved and lost over the past three decades

San Francisco, CA – Courtesy of Under One Roof (www.underoneroof.org), the NAMES Project Foundation (www.aidsquilt.org), the AIDS Emergency Fund (www.aef-sf.org), and San Francisco businessman Petyr Kane, sections of the renowned AIDS Memorial Quilt will be shown at various locations in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood the week of February 12 – 20, 2012.

Timed in concert with Valentine’s Day when many reflect on those they’ve loved, the exhibition is the largest San Francisco showing of the Quilt since its original home on Market Street closed in 1999. Sections of the Quilt will be shown at five locations throughout the week: the primary exhibition will take place the former Tower Records store at 2278 Market Street; other locations include the Under One Roof gift shop at 518A Castro Street, Catch restaurant at 2362 Market Street (where the Quilt and Under One Roof were initially housed), Bank of America at 501 Castro Street and BODY clothing store at 450 Castro Street.

The 2278 Market Street exhibit will feature 35 12’ x 12’ ‘Blocks’, or completed quilts, each comprised of eight 6’ x 3’ memorial panels – each panel created especially for one individual stricken by the AIDS crisis. The additional Quilt exhibits will house one 12’ x 12’ Block each.

The main Market Street exhibit will be open to the public free of charge from 12:00 noon – 8:00pm from Sunday, February 12th through Monday, February 20th.  At 12:00 noon on the 12th, a traditional unfolding ceremony will be held, during which a traditional ‘reading of the names’ of those memorialized will take place.

“While the AIDS and HIV community has made tremendous progress across the last three decades in fighting this devastating disease, our battle is far from over and there is still much work to be done,” said Beth Feingold, executive director of Under One Roof. “We wanted to do something big that would draw attention back to this critical issue, and combat what we’re seeing as a decreasing concern about getting infected. We’re so grateful to all involved for their hard work in getting this event off the ground, and hope the Quilt will remind the community of the thousands of friends and loved ones we’ve lost through the years. They are still, and will continue to be, dearly missed.”

AEF executive director and NAMES Project co-founder Mike Smith says, “In a war against a disease that has no cure, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as our most potent tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends and community.”

The following sponsors are credited for their support of the Quilt exhibition:

· Bank of America

· The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (CBD)

· Petyr Kane, owner of BODY and Citizen clothing shops

· The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC)

· Catch restaurant

Other contributors include Clubcard and the Jeffrey family, the provider of the space for the exhibition. Any donations collected at the exhibition will be distributed among local AIDS and HIV service organizations.

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Valentines Day Tribute at City Hall


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TONY BENNETT – A Valentine’s Day Tribute at City Hall


Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced plans for a Citywide civic celebration to honor the acclaimed, award winning singer Tony Bennett whose signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was recorded 50 years ago. The free public tribute with Tony Bennett will take place on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, February 14, 2012, at noon in the City Hall Rotunda.

“Thanks to Tony Bennett, people have been experiencing the magic of San Francisco for 50 years no matter where they are in the world,” said Mayor Lee. “The song reminds us of why we love our City so much and when we are away, it calls us home. Mr. Bennett’s signature voice is celebrated around the world, and when he comes back to San Francisco, our hearts will surely be lifted.”

“Performing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ in the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel was one of the most fortunate moments of my career, and from that moment on I have been commissioned to sing this beautiful song about one of America’s greatest cities throughout the world,” said Tony Bennett, who celebrated his 85th birthday last year and released a #1 Grammy nominated CD,

“It is a thrill and an honor 50 years later to be recognized by the citizens of San Francisco.”

Mayor Lee and others including Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz will honor Tony Bennett at the ceremony. The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Choir and Band, the San Francisco Boys and Girls Choruses, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and Beach Blanket Babylon will perform their own versions of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and pay tribute to Tony Bennett’s musical legacy. The ceremony will conclude with a sing along of the famed San Francisco tune.

Every radio station that broadcasts in the City has been asked to play “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at or near noon. KOIT 96.5FM will preempt the noon news and will play “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at exactly noon because of their long-standing relationship with Tony Bennett and his music. At noon, the song will also be played over the public address system in Union Square and at Hallidie Plaza, courtesy of the Union Square Business Improvement District. San Franciscans are encouraged to stop what they are doing and sing along to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” from office building, parks, sidewalks or where ever they are in the City.

SFMTA will outfit historic cable cars to celebrate Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which will run all day. In the evening, City Hall will be illuminated in red for the celebration of Tony Bennett on Valentine’s Day.

Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in December of 1961, and he returns there on the evening of Valentine’s Day to sing at a sold-out benefit dinner and concert to raise money for heart research at UCSF. He recorded the song in 1962.

San Francisco Travel has also launched an international “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” video contest for people around the world to submit their own video versions of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to the San Francisco Travel YouTube page.  The winner of the contest receives a deluxe vacation for two including airfare to San Francisco, stay at the Fairmont Hotel and dinner on Valentine’s Day for the Tony Bennett UCSF concert. Click here for more information: “http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/138681304.html?cmp=fb02082012_TonyBUpClose“>

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NICOLA LUISOTTI – Music Director of San Francisco Opera signs with Teatro di San Carlo


sean-martinfield-18-august-2011

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Nicola Luisotti has been appointed Music Director of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy, effective immediately. The news was announced over the weekend by General Director Rosanna Purchia and the Board of Directors of the Teatro di San Carlo Foundation following a meeting where the unanimous decision was taken. Maestro Luisotti succeeds former Principal Conductor Maurizio Benini and Music Director Jeffrey Tate. Born and raised in Tuscany, the 50-year old Luisotti is currently Music Director of San Francisco Opera and Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic.

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NICOLA LUISOTTI. Photo, Terrence McCarthy

The oldest theater in Europe and one of Italy’s most prestigious opera houses, Teatro di San Carlo is renowned not only for its beauty but for its legendary acoustics. Founded in 1737, many of opera’s most famous composers spent significant time at the theatre, including Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. In 2010, the theater was re-opened after an important period of restoration where the magnificent five-level horseshoe of boxes which are upholstered in red and decorated in gold leaf, frescoed ceiling and beautifully painted stage curtain were renewed to their original glory.

Full details of the appointment will be announced at an official ceremony and press conference on March 7th when Maestro Luisotti will be at San Carlo to begin rehearsals for Verdi’s I Masnadieri, in a production directed by Gabriele Lavia.

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GIACOMO PUCCINI, Composer – NICOLA LUISOTTI, Conductor

“I have spent a good deal of time abroad in the last ten years of my career. My heart fills with joy at the thought of spending so much more time in my home country with such a prestigious appointment,” said Maestro Luisotti speaking from Philadelphia where he is leading concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. “And the joy is even greater when I think of how deeply this Theatre was influenced, in recent years, by the presence of a man such as Riccardo Muti, with whom I had the honor of working at La Scala.”

General Director Rosanna Purchia commented, “Nicola is young and enthusiastic and has had a bright career that took him to the most important theatres in the world, from Covent Garden to the Met, from La Scala to our San Carlo. In the United States he is recognized as one of the best interpreters of Italian opera. With his appointment, we want the San Carlo to aim higher and higher.”

Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris, the foundation president, expressed his satisfaction: “We chose Luisotti because he is a high profile conductor, young, Italian…and this is a source of great pride for us. We are sure he will contribute to the success of this great theatre both in Italy and the rest of the world.”

“We at San Francisco Opera are thrilled that Nicola Luisotti has been appointed music director of the San Carlo, one of the world’s great lyric theaters,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “This announcement is a tribute to his musical talent and leadership.” Nicola Luisotti’s position as San Francisco Opera’s music director began in September 2009 and continues through the 2015-16 season.

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LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST
Roberto Frontali, Deborah Voigt, and Salvatore Licitra
Photo, Cory Weaver

Since his international debut in 2002, Conductor Luisotti has garnered enthusiastic praise from both audiences and critics throughout the world, especially for his work in Puccini’s Tosca and La Bohème and the rarely performed La fanciulla del West at both San Francisco Opera and the Met. In conjunction with these 100th Anniversary performances Luisotti was awarded the Premio Puccini Award.

Luisotti’s third season at San Francisco Opera’s Music Director of San Francisco Opera continues in June with a new Gabriele Lavia production of Attila, co-produced with Teatro alla Scala. In addition to I Masnadieri and concerts with the Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo in late March, Maestro Luisotti’s operatic engagements this season include a return visit to La Scala for Turandot in April. Luisotti will also make appearances with six great orchestras this season including his own San Francisco Opera Orchestra presented by Cal Performances, the Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Madrid’s Orquesta Nacional de España and the orchestras of Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Click here for more information on the 2012/13 Season at: San Francisco Opera

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SF OPERA – Announces audited financial results for Fiscal Year 2010/11

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera Association President George Hume today announced the findings of the audited financial results for the Company’s 2010–11 Season (FY 11): a deficit of $1,801,417 on an operating budget of $71,094,620. The recently completed 2010–11 season featured ten operas at the War Memorial Opera House, including the Company’s new production of Wagner’s Ring tetralogy, in addition to multiple concerts, recitals, cinema broadcasts and various community engagement activities before an audience of approximately 350,000 individuals. Once again, the Company’s repertory season was broadcast locally in the Bay Area on Classical 89.9/90.3 KDFC, nationally on the WMFT Radio Network, and internationally on select radio outlets, reaching a combined audience of 1.8 million listeners.

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AÏDA – Triumphal March

Operating within a very tough and turbulent economy, San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley worked in close cooperation with the Company’s Board of Directors and executive administration to minimize the financial exposure as much as possible while maintaining the Company’s international artistic standards.  Total operating revenue for FY 11 grew from $27,113,297 to $35,947,397, with income from ticket sales increasing 32% to $24,633,817. Contributions to the annual fund were $33,345,806 from approximately 11,350 donors. Despite the Company’s successful ticket sales campaign and extraordinary fund raising efforts, overall income was offset by rising expenses of 9.69% or $5,845,399.

“While the board of directors is always concerned to see the Opera post a deficit, we remain grateful to David Gockley for his complete transparency about the financial challenges facing the Company,” said George Hume.  “David has continued to keep the board fully apprised of the situation, including when we approved the 2010–11 season budget.  As in our 2009–10 season, David warned us that the worst effects of the ‘Great Recession’ would be felt by the Company for several years, and projected the Opera would close 2011 with a budget deficit—even with the blockbuster ticket sales and contributions he expected (and achieved) with Wagner’s Ring.”

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DAS RHEINGOLD

“San Francisco Opera faces serious long-term challenges to its business model, as many classical music organizations do nationwide,” commented Hume.  “The strategic plan David and his team put in motion two years ago to address our structural deficit continues to have the board’s full support.  We are especially pleased with how much the endowment has grown during David’s tenure ($71,428,980/January 01, 2006 to $138,381,021/July 31, 2011), and will continue to make that a priority.  At the end of the day, the board firmly believes that having an internationally renowned opera company in San Francisco is part of what makes the Bay Area one of the most special places in the world.  With the ongoing support of our generous patrons and donors, I know we can ensure this Company’s future.”

“Reporting a deficit is never pleasant, but the fact is that San Francisco Opera’s ‘structural imbalance’ persists, even with robust attendance and contributions,” stated David Gockley.  “Steps will continue to be taken between 2013–2016 to reduce expenses, increase annual contributions and augment the endowment.  Success in achieving a sustainable balance will continue to require the partnership of all sectors of the organization.”

The 2010–11 season featured Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida with two international casts including the debuts of sopranos Micaela Carosi and Michele Capalbo; a new production of Jules Massenet’s Werther with Ramón Vargas and Alice Coote; the Company debuts of Danielle de Niese and Ellie Dehn in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro; Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Svetla Vassileva and Daniela Dessí in the Hal Prince production; the Company premiere of Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac featuring Plácido Domingo and Ainhoa Arteta in the Petrika Ionesco Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris) production; and a new co-production with Finnish National Opera of Leoš Janáček’s The Makropulos Case starring Karita Mattila.  The Fall Season featured Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi, and guest conductors Emmanuel Villaume, Julian Kovatchev, Patrick Fournillier, and Jiři Bĕlohlávek on the podium, with San Francisco Opera Chorus Director Ian Robertson.

madama-butterfly
MADAMA BUTTERFLY

In the summer of 2011, San Francisco Opera presented Francesca Zambello’s new production of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) before an international audience. Deutsche Oper Berlin Music Director Donald Runnicles was on the podium leading a world renowned cast of artists including Nina Stemme, Mark Delavan, Anja Kampe, Jay Hunter Morris, Ian Storey, Stefan Margita, and David Cangelosi.

The FY 11 Season included two popular free community events: the Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark simulcast performance of Aida from the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Ballpark, before a record audience of 32,000, and the Company’s beloved Opera in the Park concert presented at Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow featuring the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and guest artists of the season.

Additional recitals and concerts were offered during the year featuring the San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellows.

San Francisco Opera continued its acclaimed Grand Opera Cinema Series, releasing four new titles in FY 11 to regional and international movie theaters and performing arts venues: Puccini’s La Bohème and Tosca, and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and The Elixir of Love, featuring an array of international opera stars including Angela Gheorghiu, Adrianne Pieczonka, Natalie Dessay and Ramón Vargas.  In August 2010, the Company also launched a partnership with KQED Public Television 9, Northern California’s preeminent public broadcast station, to air grand operas recorded live in high definition at the historic War Memorial Opera House. The KQED TV series launched in FY 11 with broadcasts of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s La Rondine and Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Dalilah.

San Francisco Opera’s commitment to providing music education and enrichment opportunities for students, teachers, young audiences and adults continued in the 2010–11 Season with a myriad of school and family programs and online resources.  San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Opera Guild annually bring opera and music education programs to over 126,000 students and individuals throughout Northern California. These programs include San Francisco Opera’s groundbreaking Opera ARIA (Arts Resources in Action) programs, which partners with educators in grades K–12 to connect professional artistic and creative elements of opera with classroom curricula, and San Francisco Opera Guild’s award-winning opera arts in-school programs reaching 250 schools throughout Northern California.  In addition to these in-school programs, San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Opera Guild provide countless education opportunities for all ages, including workshops for adults, pre-opera talks, preview lectures, insight panels, professional development for educators, family opera movie screenings, opera arts training camps, student dress rehearsals and opera house and backstage tours.

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NATALIE DESSAY – as “Lucia di Lammermoor”

The FY 11 audit was conducted by Armanino McKenna and unanimously approved by the San Francisco Opera Executive Committee on January 19, 2012. Audited financial results are posted in the “Finances and Governance” section of the Opera’s website.

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MASTERS OF VENICE – Exhibition closes at the de Young Museum, 2/12

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

For over three months the de Young has been home to the globally exclusive exhibition, Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power. It is a most rare and powerful gathering of art from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The exhibit closes on Sunday, February 12th. Click here to order tickets on-line: Masters of Venice

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BORDONE. Allegory of Mars, Venus and Cupid. ca. 1560

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VERONESE. Judith with the Head of Holofernes (ca. 1580)

There are fifty paintings in the exhibit, including works by Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Mantegna, and Tintoretto. The collection represents the height of Venetian Renassaince painting. Loaned by the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, these works are among the museum’s most celebrated holdings, collections built over centuries by the Habsburg royal family.

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MANTEGNA. Detail, Saint Sebastian (1457–59)

Masters of Venice is the first exhibition of Italian art at FAMSF since the presentation of Treasures from the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1999–2000. The Museums’ history of showcasing masterworks from the Italian Renaissance dates back to 1938, when the Legion of Honor presented Venetian Paintings from the 15th Century Through the 18th Century, America’s first major exhibition of Venetian Renaissance paintings.

One of the singular movements in the evolution of Western Art, the Venetian Renaissance forged an artistic vocabulary that took full advantage of the poetic potential of rich atmospheric effects, lustrous color and the sensuous beauty observed in nature. Venetian painters of the cinquecento transcended the spatial, textural and respresentational realism of their predecessors to create works unsurpassed in their emotional and sensual depictions, velvety surfaces and glorious treatment of light.

Artists in this exhibition such as Giorgione, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto were legends in their own time and their paintings were highly prized by discerning collectors across Europe. Works by painters such as Palma Vecchio, Bordone and Bassano demonstrate the full range of Venetian accomplishment in the Renaissance era.

titian-lucretia-and-her-husband-c-1515
TITIAN. Lucretia and Her Husband (ca. 1515)

The Gemädegalerie (Picture Gallery) of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna holds one of the world’s most distinguished collections of Old Master paintings. Collected by the emperors and archdukes of the royal house of Habsburg, this collection is one of the world’s four princely collections that rival those in Paris (the Louvre), Saint Petersburg (the Hermitage) and Madrid (the Prado). The Kunsthistorisches Museum was conceived by Emperor Franz Joseph I to house the impressive art accumulated over the many centuries of Habsburg rule and opened on October 17, 1891.  Its collections include paintings, decorative arts, armor, Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities, coins and musical instruments.  Located on Vienna’s grand boulevard the Ringstrasse, near the Museum of Natural History, City Hall, Parliament, the former Imperial Theater and the Opera House, the Kunsthistoriches Museum’s architecture and interior decoration are as magnificent as its collections.

masters-of-venice-e28093-renaissance-painters-of-passion-and-power
MASTERS OF VENICE – Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power

The exhibition catalogue for Masters of Venice, authored by director of the Germäldegalerie of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and curator in change of European art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Lynn Federle Orr, features the achievements of Venetian painting through the world-renowned holdings of the Germäldegalerie of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum and others. Mantegna, Titian, and Giorgione are among the exemplary artists highlighted. Hardcover, 128 pages. Click on the photo to order on-line.

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LORENZO PISONI – A.C.T. extends “Humor Abuse” to Sunday, February 5th

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Due to popular demand, sold-out houses, and nightly standing ovations, American Conservatory Theater has added an additional and final performance of its hugely successful hit, Humor Abuse, for this coming Sunday, February 5th, at 7:00 pm.

“The Bay Area has simply fallen in love with Lorenzo and Humor Abuse,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “Watching audiences, young and old, experience this incredible story of art, adolescence, and pratfalls has been one of the great joys of the season. We’re thrilled we are able to add one final performance this coming Sunday.”

“I feel so lucky to be able to perform Humor Abuse at A.C.T., where I grew up going to see theater. That audiences have reacted with such overwhelming enthusiasm to this journey is beyond expectation,” says Pisoni.

lorenzo-pisoni-e28093-as-his-father-larry-pisoni
LORENZO PISONI – as his father Larry Pisoni
Archive photo, Terry Lorant. Production photo, Chris Bennion

At the opening night performance actor/comedian/clown Lorenzo Pisoni delivered a virtually flawless performance of his one-man show – a solo reminiscence of a little boy growing up as an entertainer in the legendary Pickle Family Circus. Co-created with director Erica Schmidt, this compelling stage memoir is a masterfully timed lesson in Clown School and an impeccable gem in story telling. Lorenzo Pisoni takes us under the big top with the incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of the Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle co-founder Larry Pisoni. The production is packed with physical humor, treasured memories and classic routines – including a surprising take on “The High Diving Act”. Presented in association with Seattle Repertory Theatre, the show plays through February 5th at the American Conservatory Theater. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Humor Abuse

Lorenzo Pisoni last appeared on the A.C.T. stage in 2005′s hugely popular The Gamester and recently performed in Broadway’s Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe.  “Ever since Erica and I created Humor Abuse,” says Pisoni, “I’ve wanted to do it in San Francisco. I had a wonderful experience the last time I was on the A.C.T. stage, so now I am thrilled not only to have a chance to return to A.C.T., but also to bring this piece with me. I know many A.C.T. audience members will have a deep, nostalgic connection to what happens in the play because the Pickles were a part of San Francisco’s culture for so long.” A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff said, “From the moment I saw Lorenzo’s captivating performance of Humor Abuse in New York, I fell in love with its ineffable charm, heart, and honesty. Lorenzo is such a magnetic and charismatic performer that you cannot take your eyes off him, and his coming-of-age story has a universality that I believe our audiences will find extremely moving, as well as extremely funny.”

lorenzo-pisoni
LORENZO PISONI

humor-abuse-e28093-lorenzo-pisoni
HUMOR ABUSE – Lorenzo PisoniPhoto, Chris Bennion

Pisoni was born into the Pickle Family Circus shortly after his parents, Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider, founded the alternative big top in 1974 with their juggling partner Cecil MacKinnon. After Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle joined their ranks—creating the incomparable clown trio of Lorenzo Pickle (Pisoni), Willy the Clown (Irwin), and Mr. Sniff (Hoyle)—the Pickles became a venerable and beloved Bay Area institution. They toured the West Coast (and beyond) through the 1980s and ’90s and led the charge in the renewal of the American circus, exchanging animal acts and pyrotechnics in the supersized three-ring format with daring acrobatics and its famous show-stopping group juggle, all presented on one intimate stage so audiences would not miss a single moment. Lorenzo Pisoni grew up in this hotbed of creativity, first appearing onstage at the age of two. He became his father’s clown partner not long after, and he continued to perform with the troupe during his teens. Pisoni, a natural storyteller, gives the audience a unique take on the familiar coming-of-age story and creates a moving and hilarious portrait of a father-and-son relationship. His recollections are centered around physically demanding tricks – some newly created, others re-enactments from his father’s days with Pickle.

The creative team for Humor Abuse includes lighting designer Ben Stanton (Seminar on Broadway, Angels in America at the Signature Theatre) and sound designer Bart Fasbender (over 100 productions, including work at The Public Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Atlantic Theater Company). Original Pickle Family Circus member Randy Craig has composed music for the production. Audiences will remember Mr. Craig’s musical contributions to the production of Scapin.

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SAN FRANCISCO BALLET – John Cranko’s “Onegin” is a Classic winner

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Ballet’s Onegin is supremely elegant. The score, beautifully rendered by conductor Martin West and the SF Ballet Orchestra, is an amalgamation of various works by Tchaikovsky rather than music taken from his opera. Choreographer John Cranko (1927–1943) together with German conductor and Kurt-Heinz Stolze combined and re-arranged a wide variety of the composer’s piano pieces and symphonic works including Francesca da Rimini and Romeo and Juliet to create a musical narration that is seemingly cohesive, allows for the structure and traditions of Classical ballet, and is suitable enough to the story. What Onegin lacks are the great signature themes and resolving climaxes unique to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Ultimately, the appeal of the ballet rests in Cranko’s inventive and stylish choreography and its direct appropriateness to clearly defined characters.

vitor-luiz-and-maria-kochetkova
VITOR LUIZ and MARIA KOCHETKOVA
All production photos by Erik Tomasson

In the title role at Friday’s opening, Vitor Luiz delivered a consumate performance as the beautiful, privileged, and moody hero ruined by his own conceit. Since joining the Company in 2009, Vitor has been dazzling audiences in such roles as “Siegfried” (Tomasson’s Swan Lake), “Albrecht” (Tomasson’s Giselle), and last season’s provocative hit, RAkU. But as “Eugene Onegin”, the very charismatic Vitor Luiz has found the perfect role in which to combine electrifying precision and incisive dramatic interpretation.

clara-blanco-and-gennadi-nedvigin
CLARA BLANCO and GENNADI NEDVIGIN

As his friend, “Lensky”, Gennadi Nedvigin has reached an even higher level of artistry and grace since his stunning performance last season as “Franz” in Balanchine’s Coppélia. Nedvigin shines as the solid but headstrong fiancé of “Olga” danced by Clara Blanco. His stunning technique and dramatic flexibility make him a sympathetic hero in this version of the classic Russian lyric novel set by choreographer John Cranko. Clara Blanco is both playful and seductive in her taunting flirtations with Onegin. In Act II her pathetic pleadings with Lensky to withdraw his challenge to duel sparked tension and a growing sense of futility in Pushkin’s story of pride and vengeance.

maria-kochetkova-and-pascal-molat
MARIA KOCHETKOVA and PASCAL MOLAT

Maria Kochetkova was captivating as the naive “Tatiana”. She is brilliant technically and effective dramatically. In Act I she is shy and delicate, virtually withering in her initial encounter with the dashing and arrogant Onegin. In Act II, motivated by desire, she becomes aggressive in composing a revealing love letter to him and then pitiful when he  angrily rejects it. By Act III, now the established and loving wife of “Prince Gremin” – portrayed with great sophistication by Pascal Molat – Maria conveys maturity and strength in her resistance and dismissal of Onegin as he begs for her love.

vitor-luiz-onegin-and-maria-kochetkova-tatiana1
VITOR LUIZ (Onegin) and MARIA KOCHETKOVA (Tatiana)

Eugene Onegin continues Tuesday, January 31st through Friday, February 3rd with the following cast members. Click on the date to order tickets on-line:

TUESDAY, 1/31
Onegin: Vitor Luiz; Tatiana: Maria Kochetkova; Lensky: Gennadi Nedvigin; Olga: Clara Blanco. Conductor: Martin West. Performance begins at 8:00 pm.

WEDNESDAY, 2/1
Onegin: Davit Karapetyan; Tatiana: Vanessa Zahorian; Lenksy: Taras Domitro; Olga: Dana Genshaft; Gremin: Quinn Wharton. Conductor: David LaMarche. Performance begins at 7:30 pm.

THURSDAY, 2/2
Onegin: Pierre-Francois Vilanoba; Tatiana: Sarah Van Patten; Lensky: Isaac Hernandez; Olga: Courtney Elizabeth; Gremin: Tiit Helimets. Conductor: David LaMarche. Performance begins at 8:00 pm

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Continue Reading

HERBERT BLOMSTEDT and EDO DE WAART – Conductors return to Davies Symphony Hall

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher

Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Former San Francisco Symphony Music Directors Herbert Blomstedt and Edo de Waart return to Davies Symphony Hall in February to lead the Orchestra in three weeks of concert programs in celebration of the Orchestra’s 2011–2012 Centennial Season.  Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt will lead the Orchestra in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 with pianist Garrick Ohlsson and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 on February 2nd–4th, and then in performances of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 on February 8th and 10th. Edo de Waart will conduct the SFS in Schreker’s “Prelude to Act 1″ of Die Gezeichneten, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with pianist Simon Trpčeski, and Saint Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, “Organ” on February 16th–19th.

herbert-blomstedt-photo-gert-mothes

HERBERT BLOMSTED

Herbert Blomstedt was the SFS’ tenth Music Director from 1985-1995 and is currently its Conductor Laureate.  Under his leadership, the Orchestra won its first Grammy award, for a recording of Orff’s Carmina Burana, greatly expanded its international profile with numerous acclaimed performances on tour in Europe and at festivals including those of Edinburgh, Salzburg, Munich and Lucerne, and launched the Adventures in Music program.  He has held chief conductor positions with the Oslo Philharmonic, the Swedish and Danish Radio Orchestras, and the Dresden Staatskapelle. Until 2005, he was the Music Director of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, with which he recorded several Bruckner symphonies, including the Fifth.  With the SFS on the London label, he recorded Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 and No. 6.

edo-de-waart-courtesy-of-the-artist

EDO DE WAART

Edo de Waart was the SFS’ ninth Music Director from 1977-1985.  During his tenure, the Orchestra built and opened Davies Symphony Hall (in 1980) and became a full-time orchestra with a year-round season.  De Waart also formed the Orchestra’s first composer-in-residence relationship with John Adams, a collaboration which was unique for American orchestras at that time and produced many new works and recordings, including of Adams’ Harmonielehre and Harmonium. In these performances, he conducts Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, Organ, which he recorded with the Orchestra in 1984 and was the first recording to feature the newly-installed Davies Symphony Hall Ruffatti organ, one of America’s largest concert hall organs. Also on the program is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4, a work which he recorded with the SFS in 1982. Currently, de Waart is Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

THE PROGRAMS:

Mozart and Tchaikovsky
Feb 2nd at 2 pm / Feb 3rd at 6:30 pm / Feb 4th at 8 pm
Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K.271
Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64
Susan Key will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert.  Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before. Immediately following the performance on February 4th, Garrick Ohlsson will sign his CDs in the Symphony Store.

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5
Feb 8th at 10 am (Open Rehearsal)
Feb 8th at 8 pm / Feb 10th at 8 pm
Bruckner – Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major
Scott Foglesong will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert.  Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before. Immediately following the performances on February 10, Herbert Blomstedt will sign his CDs in the Symphony Store.

Schreker, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns
Feb 16th at 2 pm / Feb 17th at 8 pm / Feb 18th at 8 pm / Feb 19th at 2 pm
Schreker – Prelude to Act I of Die Gezeichneten
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Opus 40
Saint-Saëns – Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Opus 78, “Organ”

Inside Music, an informative talk with Laura Stanfield Prichard, begins one hour prior to concerts. Free to ticketholders. Meet Simon Trpčeski at a CD signing immediately following the 17, 18, and 19 concerts at the Symphony Store in the lobby.

garrick-ohlsson

GARRICK OHLSSON

Pianist and San Francisco resident Garrick Ohlsson won the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition and was a student of Claudio Arrau.  Ohlsson made his SFS debut in 1972 under Music Director Seiji Ozawa, and has performed with the Orchestra numerous times over the past forty years, including four appearances with Herbert Blomstedt during his tenure as Music Director, with whom he performs in these concerts.  In the fall of 2008, the Hyperion label re-released Ohlsson’s 16-disc set of the complete works of Chopin, and recently released his recordings of all of the Brahms piano variations and a two-disc set of Carl Maria von Weber’s four piano sonatas.

simon-trpccc8ceski-photo-simon-fowler

SIMON TRPČESKI

Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski made his SFS debut in 2004 and last appeared here in April 2010, with conductor Vasily Petrenko. With Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Trpčeski recorded two discs for Avie Records encompassing all of the works for Piano and Orchestra by Rachmaninoff, including the Concerto No. 4, which he performs here. Trpčeski has performed with orchestras worldwide, including those of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Seoul, and Sydney, and was the youngest person ever to receive a medal of honor from his home country of Macedonia—the Presidential Order of Merit, for affirmation of Macedonia abroad.

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“UNFAITHFULLY YOURS” – Tchaikovsky and Rossini meet Noir City X, tonight at The Castro Theatre

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

NOIR CITY is one of San Francisco’s most popular film festivals. In the genre of Film Noir, it ranks as the most prestigious in the world. Now through Sunday, January 29th, Noir City celebrates its 10th Anniversary at the Castro Theatre with a jaw-dropping list of classic titles such as Naked Alibi, The Breaking Point, Three Strangers, and the original version of The Great Gatsby. The festival concludes with an all-day marathon devoted to San Francisco-based author Dashiell Hammett, the über creator of short stories and novels that are the wellspring of Film Noir. Included are both versions of The Maltese Falcon. The original adaptation from 1931 (screens at 1:20) features former Silent Screen stars Ricardo Cortez as “Sam” and Bebe Daniels as the femme fatale, “Ruth”. The definitive version from 1941 (screens at 9:00) starring Humphrey Bogart as “Sam” and Mary Astor as “Brigid” may prove to be the last time this classic of Classic is projected in 35mm. Why? Theatre owners are being strong-armed into going totally digital. During my recent interview with Eddie Muller – the producer of and the brains and brawn behind Noir City – I got the feeling that this sad and deplorable situation mirrors the fate of lost or decomposing nitrate reels from Hollywood’s silent era.

rex-harrison-and-linda-darnell-e28093-unfaithfully-yours-1948
REX HARRISON and LINDA DARNELL – Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

“It’s the economics of the Industry,” said Muller. “That’s the answer. In this culture, it is necessary for private individuals such as myself to campaign and lobby for the preservation of things that they believe have value when that value is questioned by the people who actually own that stuff. For me, it is no different than when you look at a spectacular piece of architecture and wonder how that building could be falling apart. Well, the person who owns it obviously does not see the same value in it. They may say, ‘I hope the building does fall down so I can get the insurance money and then build something there that will make me money.’ The same thing is true with movies.”

unfaitfully-yours

This Tuesday, January 24th, at 7:00, Noir City presents the 1948 screwball parody, Unfaithfully Yours, written and directed by Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek). The film incorporates complete renditions and huge chunks of the most familiar and bombastic of Classical compositions, including Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini; Rossini’s overtures to the operas Semiramide and William Tell; and Wagner’s overture to Tannhäuser.

The plot centers around larger-than-life conductor “Sir Alfred De Carter”, a tour de force role for then 40-year-old Rex Harrison. Foreshadowing his Broadway role as the imposing “Professor Henry Higgins” of My Fair Lady, Harrison is incredibly gaunt, romantically dashing, volcanic, and wildly histrionic. His character is totally in the grip of the green-eyed monster, Jealousy. He believes his young and gorgeous wife, “Daphne”, portrayed by the sumptuously beautiful Linda Darnell, is cheating on him with his personal secretary, “Tony” – a blonde pretty boy portrayed by Kurt Kreuger. We are introduced to Sir Alfred during an orchestra rehearsal and before the seeds of suspicion have taken root. Puffing on a cigarette and beating out tempo like a mad traffic cop, Sir Alfred works the musicians through a complete rendering of Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide. Though the opera was seldom staged,  it’s overture was extremely popular back in ’48, most folks being familiar with it from live symphony radio broadcasts. But director and screenplay author Preston Sturges seized an opportunity for cinematographer Victor Milner (Love Me Tonight, Cleopatra, It’s A Wonderful Life) to give movie audiences a bird’s eye view of a full symphony orchestra hard at work. Milner has the camera fly above and around the musicians, hovering over a section or catching a close-up of a comic piccolo player with the same ease and panache as recently televised performances from the San Francisco Symphony. The effect was huge and quickly establishes Sir Alfred’s pre-disposition toward sweeping mood changes, intense outbursts, relentless assaults, and screaming climaxes. The Preston Sturges “touch” shimmers throughout.

Click on the photo to watch Rex Harrison conduct the Overture to Semiramide:

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TORBEN MEYER – as “Dr. Schultz”

The story of Semiramide – a Queen of Babylon! – is a twisted mess of murder and plots to murder, complete with a royal ghost, near misses of incest, and fatal warnings by a high priest of the Magi. Appropriately, Rossini’s Overture is awash with riotous fury from the string section, strong gales from the winds, and an orgy of lightning strikes from the Size Extra-Large cymbals crashed with great aplomb by character actor Torben Meyer as “Dr. Schultz”. It’s straight out of Looney Tunes. So is the scene involving a madcap fire – underscored, of course, by the William Tell Overture.

The controlling gimmick of Sturges’ screenplay is that Sir Alfred descends into epic flights of daydreaming while conducting his concerts. The camera zooms into the pupil of his eye and we are are drawn into his melodramatic schemes of vengeance, humiliation, throat slashings, Russian roulette, and noble departure. No one in the orchestra notices that their conductor has gone temporarily bananas. The innocent wife, bewildered though she may be by his recent erratic behavior and even allowing for the fact that he’s British – “Alfred, you’re getting nuttier than a fruitcake!” – has never been more ravishing, sitting up in her box, clusters of diamonds shimmering in her hair. And the blonde secretary, Tony? Tony just keeps getting blonder as Sir Alfred slashes his baton through Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Opus 32 – the composer’s meditation on Dante’s second level of Hell, where adulterous wives spin out of control in an eternal windstorm.

kurt-kreuger-linda-darnell-and-rex-harrison
Kurt Kreuger, Linda Darnell, and Rex Harrison

Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser serves as the backdrop through another of Sir Alfred’s poetic visions: What happens after the concert, when we are home alone?

“Don’t cry, my darling,” says Alfred to Daphne as he takes a feathered pen and begins writing out a check for $100,000. “I couldn’t understand music as well as I do if I didn’t understand the human heart. Neither of you has done anything wrong. Youth belongs to youth, beauty to beauty. I want you to be rich, comfortable, and free. I don’t want you to have to worry about rent or clothing or food. Any of the un-romantic things that should always be provided for you. That little head was never made to worry. [Alfred takes Daphne's hand and starts to kiss it, dodging the 10-carat diamond ring she wears over her opera gloves.] Or these hands, to work. Only to love… so dearly.”

As though a tenth of a million could satisfy a girl like her, Wagner’s familiar strains will undoubtedly provoke many in the audience to recall another cinematic classic, “What’s Opera Doc?”, where lyrics were set to the same signature theme. “Oh, Bwoonhilde, you’re so wovewy,” sings the helmeted hero. “Yes, I know it,” responds the long-eared beauty, “I can’t help it.”

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS is paired with THE GOOD HUMOR MAN (screens at 9:15). In this 1950 release, Jack Carson stars as “Biff Jones”, a driver for the Good Humor Ice Cream Company. He is in over his head when he tries to save a gal-pal from gangsters and ends up accused of murder. A typical thriller from ace noir scribe Roy (The Fugitive) Huggins – except the final screenplay is by comedy genius Frank Tashlin, whose hilariously inspired high-jinks play havoc with film noir conventions. Co-starring Lola Albright, Jean Wallace, and George “Superman” Reeves. Directed by Lloyd Bacon.

Click here for ticket information: UNFAITHFULLY YOURS

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SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – Announces 2012/13 Season

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company’s 2012–13 repertory season, guest artists and performance schedule, in addition to three world premiere commissions slated for 2013, Mr. Gockley also announced the extension of his contract to lead San Francisco Opera through the 2015–16 Season along with the extension of contracts for the artistic leadership team of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers, and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

nicola-luisotti-e28094-david-gockley
NICOLA LUISOTTI — DAVID GOCKLEY
Photos, Terrence McCarthy

THE 2012/13 SEASON

Rigoletto – The Company’s 90th season opens Friday, September 7th with a gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s vivid and compelling story of a vengeful court jester desperately attempting to protect his daughter from disaster. Maestro Luisotti leads an international cast of singers including acclaimed Serbian baritone and Verdi specialist Željko Lučić in the title role, and the Company debuts of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as “Gilda” and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro as the “Duke of Mantua”. Opera Ball, the Company’s celebrated signature benefit event, co-produced with the San Francisco Opera Guild in support of the San Francisco Opera and Opera Guild education programs, will precede the opening night performance at the historic War Memorial Opera House.

I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Vincenzo Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece, The Capulets and the Montagues, inspired by the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, opens Saturday, September 29th. The cast is headlined by international stars Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell as the hapless lovers “Romeo” and “Giulietta”. DiDonato, who wowed San Francisco audiences in her 2007 role debut as “Octavian” in Der Rosenkavalier. Nicole Cabell, winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff “Singer of the World”, makes her role debut in this co-production with Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu makes his Company and role debut as “Tebaldo”. Directed by Vincent Boussard in his U.S. debut and led by returning conductor Riccardo Frizza, this new co-production, which had its debut in Munich in March 2011, features costumes by renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix and sets by Vincent Lemaire.

moby-dick
MOBY DICK. Ben Heppner as Ahab – Morgan Smith as Starbuck
Photo, Karen Almond

Moby-Dick – Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s new adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic meditation on man and the sea, has been met with high praise since its premiere at the Dallas Opera in April 2010. Now making its first appearance in the Bay Area, this San Francisco Opera co-commission stars many of the original cast members, including preeminent Canadian tenor Ben Heppner as “Captain Ahab”, American baritone Morgan Smith as “Starbuck”, American tenor Stephen Costello as “Greenhorn” (Ishmael) and Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu as “Queequeg”.

Lohengrin – Following his great success as “Siegmund” in 2011’s Die Walküre, American tenor Brandon Jovanovich returns to San Francisco Opera to make his title role debut in Wagner’s Lohengrin. Appearing as the noble warrior’s bride, “Elsa von Brabant”, is Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund. Noted Wagnerian artists Kristinn Sigmundsson will sing the role of “Heinrich der Vogler”, Gerd Grochowski is “Friedrich von Telramund” and Petra Lang appears as “Ortrud”. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts his first Wagner opera with the Company, and British stage director Daniel Slater directs.

Tosca – Maestro Nicola Luisotti conducts Puccini’s powerful melodrama of a great singer, a rebellious painter and a corrupt police chief engaged in a deadly test of wills. Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette will share the title role in SF Opera’s elegant production designed by Thierry Bosquet and directed by Jose Maria Condemi. Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu appears with Italian tenor Massimo Giordano in his Company debut as “Mario Cavaradossi”. Italian baritone Roberto Frontali will sinfg “Baron Scarpia”. American soprano Patricia Racette, who performs “Tosca” this month at the Metropolitan Opera, returns to SF Opera to star alongside Brian Jagde as “Mario Cavaradossi”. Baritone Mark Delavan, well-known to Bay Area audiences for his acclaimed portrayal of “Wotan” in the Company’s 2011 Ring cycle, is “Baron Scarpia”. The final two performances, December 1st and 2nd, will be conducted by Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

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TOSCA. Angela Gheorghiu – Patricia Racette
Photos, Ken Howard and Scott Suchman

Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden by Bay Area composer Nolan Gasser and librettist Carey Harrison receives its world premiere in March 2013. A unique opportunity for young people to see this familiar story come to life as a fully staged opera, this work is intended for children and families and will feature discounted ticket prices for children under age 18. Presented in partnership with Cal Performances, the opera will be performed at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. This production will be directed by Jose Maria Condemi with projections designed by painter and visual artist Naomie Kremer. Full cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

Opening June 5th, 2013 is Jaques Offenbach’s melodic masterpiece, Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Distinguished lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani will sing the role of the sensitive poet who searching for love. Popular coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay returns to perform the four women Hoffmann encounters. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, who recently appeared with the Company as “Charlotte” in Massenet’s Werther, makes her role debut as “Nicklausse” and Christian Van Horn portrays the four villains who thwart Hoffmann’s desires. Conductor Patrick Fournillier and director Laurent Pelly return for this new co-production with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu designed by Chantal Thomas.

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SASHA COOKE — NATALIE DESSAY

Così fan tutte – Mozart’s ingenious mix of hilarious farce and poignant drama follows two young soldiers who disguise themselves to test their lovers’ fidelity. Opening June 9th, the cast includes: Ellie Dehn (Fiordiligi), Heidi Stober (Despina), Francesco Demuro (Ferrando), Christel Lötzsch (Dorabella), Philippe Sly (Guglielmo), Marco Vinco (Don Alfonso), and Susannah Biller (Despina) in the final two performances. Nicola Luisotti conducts and Jose Maria Condemi directs this SF Opera/Opera Monte Carlo co-production by John Cox and designed by Robert Perdziola.

A new San Francisco Opera commission, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is composer Mark Adamo’s exploration of the narrative of Jesus and his love for complicated women. He draws his libretto from the Gnostic Gospels, the Canonical Gospels and decades of biblical scholarship. The cast includes the Company debut of American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Mary Magdalene), soprano Maria Kanyova (Miriam), William Burden (Peter), and Nathan Gunn (Yeshua). Director Kevin Newbury and conductor Michael Christie make their San Francisco Opera debuts with this production opening June 19th.

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NATHAN GUNN – As “Yeshua”
Photo, David-Bachman

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CHRISTINE EBERSOLE – Bay Area Cabaret presents Tony Award winner at the Venetian Room, January 15th
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EDDIE MULLER – On the Slow Death of 35mm – An Interview with the “Czar of Noir”

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

NOIR CITY celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year at the Castro Theatre. The festival stretches out for ten days and promises to be the most exciting and varied season yet assembled. The season opens with a double-bill of San Francisco-based thrillers: Dark Passage (1947) starring the dynamic team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) filmed entirely on location in The City. Many in the audience will pine for the unobstructed and long-gone panoramic views, the new-comers will be shocked at how the location sites have changed. Has it all been for the better? How has the unavoidable influence of power and greed effected the look and feel of San Francisco? Who decided that vast amounts of its surviving Victorian architecture should be destroyed in favor of what is there now? The City wept as the wrecker’s canon ball smashed through the ultimately opulent Fox Theatre on Market Street to make way for the brash constructs that occupy Fox Plaza. For the world of movies – especially as it effects San Francisco and its amazing variety of film festivals – how we experience them and, in the end, where we experience them – the future rests on a predictable fault line. Make way for a Hero, Eddie Muller. We talked about his astonishing ten-year success story of Noir City and how he will negotiate the on-coming juggernaut of change.

lauren-bacall
LAUREN BACALL (As “Irene Jansen”): Why don’t you get dressed.
I’ll wait downstairs and sort of get a fresh impression.

Sean: How did you assemble this particular roster of films?

Eddie: It’s never really one thing. There are so many factors you have to take into account – the availability of the films and then our efforts to find films that are not available. That drives everything for us. Can we resurrect something that’s not been seen in a long time? Very early on, Anita Monga – my co-programmer and co-producer of the festival – taught me a very important lesson: you have to realize there are always new viewers for the films. Sometimes, when you become a real aficionado, it’s easy to say, “I don’t want to show that. Everybody’s seen it.” Then you have to realize that’s not true. I’m assuming a lot of people in their late teens and early twenties will be coming to the festival who were just kids when we first started. They didn’t know they had an interest in these things. That’s why I’m going to show Naked Alibi and Pickup – films that have not been seen at all – and others such as Gilda and Laura. I’ll show Thieves’ Highway and Dark Passage again because they’re such great “Old San Francisco” movies. Another big factor, right now – and I can’t stress this enough – this may be the last time you get to see these films in 35mm on the big screen.

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GLORIA GRAHAME – a border town girl, “Marianna”

Sean: You mentioned this fact during the Christmas screenings of the Deanna Durbin films. In 2012, this is as perplexing to me as when I learned of the damage to the original negative of my favorite film of films, Lawrence of Arabia. Or farther back to 1969 when I worked at the M.G.M. auction and heard about the Key Sets of stills that were plowed into the ground simply because whoever was in charge didn’t know what else to do with them. What is the rationale behind the deliberate loss of a 35mm film?

Eddie: It’s the economics of the Industry. That’s the answer. In this culture, it is necessary for private individuals such as myself to campaign and lobby for the preservation of things that they believe have value when that value is questioned by the people who actually own that stuff. For me, it is no different than when you look at a spectacular piece of architecture and wonder how that building could be falling apart. Well, the person who owns it obviously does not see the same value in it. They may say, “I hope the building does fall down so I can get the insurance money and then build something there that will make me money.” The same thing is true with movies. If Naked Alibi was a picture that people wanted to make money with, then they would preserve it. But there isn’t a way to make money with it. That doesn’t mean the film is without value or that people don’t want to see it. Fourteen hundred people are going to come to the Castro Theatre to see Naked Alibi. So, I’ve created a situation where the film has value. That’s why I’m able to get Universal – God love them! – to strike a new print. They said, “Eddie has shown over the years that people will come to see these movies. So, yeah! We own that film, let’s make a new print.” That’s exactly how it should work. But, it doesn’t always work that way.

Sean: How much did it actually cost Universal to make a new print of that film?

Eddie: I don’t know exactly, but if an original negative is in good condition, it will cost thousands of dollars. Not tens of thousands, but thousands of dollars. There is a difference between a restoration and a preservation. With a preservation you’re just printing from existing material without improving or enhancing it in any way. If the original material in the negative and the soundtrack are in good condition, you can just make a print of that and make it available to be screened. If that negative does not exist, then you have to go out and do a restoration which is making a new inter-negative from positive elements so that you can then make prints in perpetuity. When we restore films such as The Prowler or Cry Danger, we don’t have the negative. So, we’re actually making a negative from the positive elements we’re able to find. We’re going in and enhancing the soundtrack when it needs to be enhanced, cleaning it up when it needs to be cleaned up. If we have two or three prints, we’re making a composite of the best parts from each of them and creating a new negative. That’s much more expensive. That can go from $40,000 to easily up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – if it’s a color film. The Film Foundation spent half a million dollars restoring The Red Shoes. That was a Technicolor film and they just obsessed over it. You’re never going to make that money back. You can’t make that money back. For instance, in this festival, we funded a preservation print of Three Strangers.

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PETER LORRE (as “Johnny West”): Don’t ever get mixed up with a Chinese goddess.
That’s the worst thing that can happen, the very worst.

Eddie: Warner Brothers did not have a screenable print of that film. I felt that was ridiculous. We should be able to show that film to an audience right now in 35mm. It was not on their agenda to do that. They did not see the value of making that 35mm print. I see the value. The Film Noir Foundation spent the money. We’ll show the film – three times, on Saturday, the 28th. In one day, at the Castro Theatre, we will probably pay for the cost of making that print. It will then reside at the UCLA Film and Television Archive so that people can have access to it. It’s still owned by Warner Brothers, of course. They have the rights to the film, but now there’s a 35mm print that exists. There is the possibility that, at some point, Warner Brothers may preserve the film themselves – for their archive. But they don’t have that now. I felt that now was the time, that we can make that money back, and I want people to see that movie now. I want that film back in circulation now.

Sean: What film do you want to invest in next?

Eddie: I have several I’m working on and trying to get done. It can be very frustrating. The demise of 35mm is a real factor right now. It’s infringing upon our efforts because there aren’t enough laboratories to do the work anymore. In southern California there are so few laboratories that are actually restoring and preserving film that they all have a backlog. When I was trying to get something done at Universal they said, “We would love do that for you, Eddie, but we’re preserving a bunch of our own films right now at three different laboratories in L.A.  We’ve got them backed up for months. You can’t get that thing printed. It won’t be for another six months before we can even think about making a print of that film.” This is the reality, Sean. What more do you need to know other than Kodak filed for bankruptcy the other day? That says it all. When Kodak files for bankruptcy – do I need to explain that the future of film is done? It’s going digital.
Sean: It must be minor news to the world, I haven’t heard a word about it.

Eddie: It’s been brewing for a while. It’s a major concern. The thing I want to stress is how incredibly essential San Francisco is to the success of the Film Noir Foundation. It’s because of the people of San Francisco and the Castro Theatre – which holds 1400 people – that the economics makes sense for us. I explain this to people overseas and they are mystified. “You have to hold a film festival to get the prints made?” But, it works. It’s a very Capitalist answer to a very Socialist problem. It’s our film culture, we should be preserving it. But, there is no central film archive in this country. It’s the studios. The studios own this stuff, they own the rights to the movies. If they choose to have a film become extinct, then that is going to happen unless there is some economically viable alternative. That’s what the Noir City film festival is. It is economically viable and the people of San Francisco will fill that theatre. When that happens, I can justify spending the money to make new prints of these films – even if they are only shown at my festivals which are also held in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, DC. It’s not costing me money. Yes, I’m a non-profit. But like a lot of non-profits, I’m not here to lose money. At the worst, I will break even. As long as we keep making money, we can keep making film prints and preserving them. Going forward, we have to figure out how valuable this is when it’s no longer about the film.

Sean: Do you mean, afterwards – when there are so many films that have been rescued?

Eddie: The question is – will there be film laboratories that can do this preservation and restoration work? Will the venues where we show the films succumb to the economic pressures and say, “It’s no longer viable to have 35mm projectors in the venue.”

Sean: During my recent interview with film historian Dale Kuntz for the Deanna Durbin screenings, he mentioned the problems he’s having trying to find people who can service his 16mm projectors.

Eddie: Absolutely! There was a 16mm projector in the Castro Theatre for the first five years of Noir City. That was an option, as a back-up, in case something went wrong. I always had a collector somewhere. There have been three occasions in our history when we needed that projector. When we scheduled Repeat Performance, a really rare film from 1947, Joan Leslie came as our featured guest. The film that was shipped to us was not projectable because they had not cared for it. But I know a private collector here in the Bay Area, Peter Conheim, who has a 16mm print of it. He drove the film straight to the Castro and that’s what we screened.

Sean: I’ll bet he was totally thrilled.

Eddie: Yes. The thing is – today, that projector is no longer at the Castro. It’s not economically viable for them to show 16mm. I have to say, I agree with them. If the alternative is we have to put our money into a new DVD projection system as opposed to upkeep on a 16mm – of course they’re going to do that.

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REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947) – Joan Leslie as “Sheila Page”

Eddie: The studios are the ones driving this onto the theater owners by saying, “Spend the money on making the conversion to digital. Because, in a year, we’re not going to send you films. If you haven’t spent the money on making the conversion, you won’t be in business.” It really is an amazing phenomenon. There is a lot of money being made by venture capitalists who are loaning the money to theaters to pay for the digital conversion because they do not have the money to do it themselves. If they want to remain theaters, they have to make that conversion. It can cost between $125,000–$150,00 to install that digital system. Theaters don’t have that money. The movie business is terrible right now. There are a lot of sharks out there who are saying, “We’ll loan you the money.”

Sean: Sounds like organized crime to me.

Eddie: And it’s happening with the blessing of the studios because they want that digital conversion to happen. It is the natural evolution of the business. It doesn’t make sense to put films in cans and then ship them around the world anymore when you can do it through the Internet. It does seem archaic, right? But it doesn’t mean that films should be allowed to disintegrate and disappear. Film is still the best preservation medium there is – far surpassing digital. Digital is not a preservation medium because it is way to volatile. If you have something short-circuit, it can erase everything on the hard drive. You can lose a digital film way-easier than you can lose an actual film. It makes sense to have a 35mm in pristine condition even if eventually everybody’s going to see it as a digital product. I’ve come to terms with this. I will readily admit that in the past few years I was combative about it and opposed to the digitization of all this stuff. The writing is on the wall. I cannot win that argument. Now the mission is to preserve as much as we can on film, in the time we have, so that as much exists as possible – in as good a condition as possible – for that eventual digital future when that’s how people are going to see these things.

patricia-neal
PATRICIA NEAL (As “Leona Charles”): Speaking of coincidences, I live in Number Seven.
My friends just kick the door open.

Eddie: Another thing that has grown out of the success of this festival – which is not something I’d imagined at the beginning – is that it’s no longer just about preserving films. It is about the film-going experience. As you see digital make these in-roads, the Number One thing that describes the Digital Revolution is “convenience”. It is very convenient. You can see movies that you thought you would never see, sitting home at your desk. That is convenience. But what is lost in that is the communal movie-going experience. I still believe that movies like this offer people a reason to go out and share the experience with everybody else. I continue to believe that watching a movie in a movie theater with an audience of like-minded people is the best way to experience a film. And the people of San Francisco agree – because they come out and support the experience of this festival.

afraid-to-talk-1932
AFRAID TO TALK (1932) – Eric Linden as “Eddie Martin”

Eddie: Another aspect of the festival that I think is important – and where I go a little against the grain is the old debate. “What is Film Noir? What are the qualifications?” I have very specific ideas about it. And on occasion, when asked to express those ideas, I will do it in a very forceful and definitive manner. But, as a Showman, I totally get the value of the elasticity of the term. It allows me to present things to a large audience that wouldn’t otherwise be seen unless I was including it under this definition of “Noir”. So, no one has discussed Okay, America and Afraid to Talk in the context of Film Noir. I’m taking the opportunity to present these extraordinary movies – that were made pre-Code – which feel exactly like Film Noir. And I say – “So, how does this effect your interpretation of Film Noir?” Afraid to Talk is Film Noir. There are no two-ways about it. It looks and feels like Film Noir. The point of the movie is Film Noir – an innocent man is railroaded by corrupt politicians colluding with gangsters. It was made in 1931, it could easily have been made in the ’40s. I really want people to see those movies. So, this is a very important part of what we do at the festival – to expose a whole new generation to films such as The Maltese Falcon, Laura and Gilda, which they may have never seen on a big screen.

rita-hayworth-and-angie-dickinson
RITA HAYWORTH and ANGIE DICKINSON

Eddie: Everybody needs to understand Rita Hayworth. If the kids don’t know who Rita Hayworth is, then show them Gilda on the big screen and they’ll get it. “Oh! Now I understand what a Movie Star is!” And this applies to Angie Dickinson as well. Films from the ’60s, like The Killers, is an obvious re-make of a classic Film Noir, so it qualifies. But Point Blank is something very different and what people are going to get out of it is that there are certain common themes in these films. By juxtaposing films from the ’40s with those of the ’60s you can really see what changed culturally. This is what a Femme Fatale looked like in the ’40s and this is what that character is like in the ’60s. This is the way Burt Lancaster would have played the role in the ’40s, this is the way Lee Marvin does it in the ’60s. On Monday night, the 23rd, I’m showing Gilda from 1946 with The Money Trap from 1965. It’s going to be a shock for people to see Rita Hayworth and Glen Ford in their sexy prime and then see them twenty years later in middle age. The Money Trap is very poignant. When Ford and Hayworth are on screen together, the subtext is clearly their history together – “We had a thing once.” And they don’t look good. Hayworth is, like, “I’m playing that part!” She’s not made-up, she isn’t glamorous, she’s a drunk – you know? It’s very powerful to see those films back-to-back.

Sean: Even if you don’t know the Hollywood History of it all, the performances remain highly nuanced and layered with content – which keeps the films vibrant and vital.

Eddie: That’s what we aim to do!

rita-hayworth
RITA HAYWORTH (As “Gilda”): Hate is a very exciting emotion. Haven’t you noticed?
Very exciting. I hate you too, Johnny. I hate you so much I think I’m going to die from it.
Darling…

The NOIR CITY Nightclub
Swedish American Hall , 2174 Market Street –within walking distance of the Castro Theatre.
Swinging lounge tunes, torrid torch songs, classic burlesque, and a helping of neo-noir rock-and-roll is the bill of fare Saturday night, January 28, 2012, as the NOIR CITY film festival breaks out of the majestic Castro Theatre to present Everyone Comes to Eddie’s, a swanky, sexy, and slightly sinister soiree in which the Swedish American Hall is transformed into a vintage 1940s-era nightclub. The one-night special event is an added celebration of NOIR CITY’s 10th anniversary. Cocktail attire preferred. Tickets for the show, a fundraiser for the Film Noir Foundation, are priced at $75 each. Admission includes hors d’oeuvres and one complimentary cocktail. No-host bar. NOIR CITY Passports do not grant party admission. Separate ticket required. Click here for ticket information: The NOIR CITY Nightclub.

SEE RELATED ARTICLES

The Sentinel’s own editor Sean Martinfield is interviewed by David Perry on Comcast. Catch the Action!
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – 75th Anniversary – “Bridging Us All”
NOIR CITY – 10th Anniversary, 10-Day Festival at the Castro Theatre, begins January 20th
CHRISTINE EBERSOLE – Bay Area Cabaret presents Tony Award winner at the Venetian Room, January 15th
“Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien” – At Davies Symphony Hall, Featuring Damian Smith of SF Ballet, January 12th–14th
NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY – Selects 25 Films for Preservation
JOHN E. BUCHANAN, Jr. – Director of the Legion of Honor and de Young Museum loses battle with cancer
CD, JAKE SCHEPPS – An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók
“XANADU THE MUSICAL” – Now at the New Conservatory Theatre Center
DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY XMAS, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre
CD Review – A STEINWAY CHRISTMAS ALBUM ★★★★
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166581
SF Opera Center Announces the 2012 Adler Fellows
CALIFORNIA DREAMING – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
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“THE ARTIST” – Silents, please! – A masterpiece in B&W, starring Jean Dujardin
THOMAS JANE – An interview with the star of HBO’s “Hung” and 3D Thriller “Dark Country”
THE TEMPERAMENTALS – A Must-See at New Conservatory Theatre Center
CARMEN – Closing the season at San Francisco Opera
PISSARRO’S PEOPLE – Stunning exhibit now at the Legion of Honor, through 1/22
THE PRESIDIO’S HIDDEN PAST – SF’s Oldest Building Reveals Original Adobe Walls
MAHARAJA – The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts, at the Asian Art Museum
KYLE KETELSEN and JANE ARCHIBALD – Featured Soloists in SF Symphony’s Presentation of the Brahms Requiem
“XERXES” – A Royally Entertaining Production at SF Opera
“REAL STEEL” – Reels of money-making crap starring Hugh Jackman
“XERXES” – At San Francisco Opera
RICHARD SERRA DRAWING – At the SF Museum of Modern Art through January 16th
CD Release: “Feels Like Home”, The Celtic Tenors ★★★★
DON GIOVANNI – It’s smart and new at San Francisco Opera
“HOUDINI: Art and Magic” – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
LEANNE BORGHESI – SF Bay Area Star on the Rise
LUCAS MEACHEM – Former Adler Fellow to sing “Don Giovanni” at San Francisco Opera
CAMERON CARPENTER – International Superstar Organist plays “Phantom of the Opera” at Davies Symphony Hall, Friday, October 30th
“THE MILL & THE CROSS” – Film director Lech Majewski brings 16th Century masterpiece to life
“LUCREZIA BORGIA” – A Hard Act To Swallow at San Francisco Opera
EDDIE MULLER and “Fear Over Frisco” – An Interview with the Czar of Noir
LEAH CROCETTO – An Interview with “Liu” in SF Opera’s TURANDOT
CD Release – Jacques Loussier Trio – “Schumann: Kinderszenen”
HENRY PHIPPS – A Conversation with Featured Boy Soprano in SF Opera’s “Heart of a Soldier”
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“HEART OF A SOLDIER” – A Rapturous World Premiere At San Francisco Opera
MEET MAESTRO NICOLA LUISOTTI – San Francisco Opera opens 2011/12 season with Puccini’s “Turandot”
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“MOZART’S SISTER” – Third string cinema
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“HEART OF A SOLDIER” – SFOpera Presents World Premiere September 10th
THE MOURNERS: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy
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“CASABLANCA” – The SF Symphony accompanies screening tonight, 7/22
“HE WHO GETS SLAPPED” – A conversation with composer and pianist Matti Bye
ABEL GANCE’S “NAPOLEON” – San Francisco Silent Film Festival to present complete restoration by Kevin Brownlow in 2012
HEIDI MELTON – An Interview with “Sieglinde” in San Francisco Opera’s DIE WALKÜRE
MARY GIBBONEY – An Interview with the star of “ABSOLUTELY SAN FRANCISCO”
“DAS RHEINGOLD” – The slippery steps to Valhalla
SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre is right-on target
“TALES OF THE CITY” – Totally Sensational, Totally San Francisco
TIIT HELIMETS – An Interview with “Prince Edvard” of SF Ballet’s THE LITTLE MERMAID
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA – Presents “Mastery of Schubert”, Featuring Soprano Melody Moore, 3/24–27
ZHENG CAO – A Conversation with A Miracle Artist
MELODY MOORE – Soprano shines in SF Ballet’s “Nanna’s Lied”
MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée
EDITORIAL – A confession about ballerina Lorena Feijóo
GISELLE – And the Legend of the Wilis
A Conversation with Elza van den Heever
CLUB FOOT ORCHESTRA – A Conversation with Richard Marriot
WEST SIDE STORY – Most of it, anyway
PLÁCIDO DOMINGO – An Interview with the Tenor turned Baritone for “Cyrano”
Dr. ELISA STEPHENS – A Visit with the President of the Academy of Art University
CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
A Look At “Giselle” with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
SABINA ALLEMANN – Former SF Ballet Ballerina Returns In A.C.T.’s “The Tosca Project”
AMANDA McBROOM – A conversation on her recording of songs by Jacques Brel
CAMERON CARPENTER – An interview with Grammy-nominated organist
HANDEL’S “ORLANDO” – An Interview with Conductor Nicholas McGegan
PIANIST MISHA DICHTER – A Conversation
ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
DAVID PERRY – On the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media”
NATHAN GUNN – Sings Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin
CAMINOS FLAMENCOS – A Conversation with Yaelisa
JANE MONHEIT – An Interview
DIANE BAKER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
AT LAST! – ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
A Conversation with Ruben Martin Cintas, Principal Dancer with SF Ballet
THIS GUN FOR HIRE, 1942 – Looking at “Now you see it, now you don’t” sung by Veronica Lake
“My Silver Dollar Man” – from MARKED WOMAN (starring Bette Davis, 1937)
“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)

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SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – “The Magic Flute” opens Cinema Series at the Sundance Kabuki

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera partners with Sundance Cinemas to present HD screenings of the Company’s acclaimed productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Verdi’s Otello, Richard Strauss’ Salome and Puccini’s Il Trittico at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco. Each production will be screened twice – Tuesdays at 7:00 pm and Saturdays at 10:30 am. The series begins with The Magic Flute on January 24th and 28th, followed by Otello on February 28th and March 3rd. Salome plays March 27th and 31st and concludes with Il Trittico May 15th and 19th.  These screenings mark the third San Francisco Opera’s popular cinema presentations to be shown at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved opera, The Magic Flute, is filled with ritual and symbolism. Mozart’s masterpiece is a playful and profound look at the human quest for love, wisdom, and virtue.  Donald Runnicles conducts a cast headed by acclaimed lyric tenor Piotr Beczala as “Tamino” and soprano Dina Kuznetsova as “Pamina”.  The cast also features Erika Miklósa as the “Queen of the Night”, baritone Christopher Maltman as “Papageno”, and bass Georg Zeppenfeld as “Sarastro”.  Directed by Stanley Garner, the production is designed by renowned artist Gerald Scarfe, whose captivating vision of The Magic Flute features a menagerie of fantastical creatures and a 30-foot-tall pyramid that morphs as the opera’s plot unfolds.  A long-time political cartoonist for London’s Sunday Times, Scarfe’s extensive work in opera, theater, and film includes designing and directing the animation for Pink Floyd’s The Wall concerts and film.

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MAGIC FLUTE – Christopher Maltman (Papageno).
Photo, Terrence McCarthy

Giuseppe Verdi’s masterwork Otello is conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti. Considered by many to be one of Verdi’s greatest operas, Shakespeare’s flawed warrior “Otello” is sung by tenor Johan Botha, one of today’s preeminent interpreters of the role.  Soprano Zvetelina Vassileva sings the role of Otello’s faithful and falsely accused wife “Desdemona”, and Italian baritone Marco Vratogna is the manipulative soldier “Iago”.  Rounding out the cast is tenor Beau Gibson (“Cassio”), mezzo-soprano Renée Tatum (“Emilia”), and bass Eric Halfvarson (“Lodovico”). Conceived by Sir Peter Hall, this Lyric Opera of Chicago production is directed by Stephen Barlow.

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JOHAN BOTHA as “Otello”. Photo, Terrence McCarthy

Richard Strauss’ biblical drama Salome is inspired by the Oscar Wilde play.The story of “Salome” and her lecherous stepfather “Herod” has shocked opera audiences since its first performance. Starring in the title role is soprano Nadja Michael, who has sung the role to great acclaim at Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Milan’s La Scala. Tenor Kim Begley sings the role of “King Herod”, with bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the doomed “Jokanaan”, mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura as “Herodias”, and tenor Garrett Sorenson as “Narraboth”.  This San Francisco Opera co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and L’Opéra de Montréal is directed by Seán Curran.  San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts.

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NADJA MICHAEL – As “Salome”. Photo, Terrence McCarthy

Giacomo Puccini’s triptych Il Trittico is a trio of one-act operas that runs the gamut from heart-wrenching tragedy to madcap comedy. Soprano Patricia Racette, heralded as one of the premiere American dramatic sopranos of our time, portrays the heroine in each of the one-act operas – Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. The cast also features baritone Paolo Gavanelli, tenor Brandon Jovanovich, celebrated contralto Ewa Podleś and bass Andrea Silvestrelli.  San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers leads these performances, and James Robinson directs this inventively updated production from New York City Opera.

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IL TABARRO – Brandon Jovanovich and Patricia Racette
Photo, Cory Weaver

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SUOR ANGELICA – Patricia Racette
Photo, Cory Weaver

Recorded live in high definition at San Francisco’s historic War Memorial Opera House, all shows include English subtitles and a brief intermission with behind the scenes interviews. All performances feature the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus (Ian Robertson, Chorus Director). San Francisco Opera’s education department presents free, informative 25 minute pre-screening lectures prior to each Saturday morning performance: The Magic Flute, January 28th; Otello, March 3rd; Salome, March 31st; and Il Trittico, May 19th. Lectures begin at 10:00 am.

Click here for ticket information: Grand Opera Cinema Series

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NOIR CITY – 10th Anniversary, 10-Day Festival at the Castro Theatre, begins January 20th

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

NOIR CITY celebrates its 10th anniversary as the world’s most popular film noir festival with a 10-day extravaganza featuring San Francisco treats, a Dashiell Hammett marathon, freshly preserved 35mm rarities, by-popular-demand encore screenings, surprises galore, and super special guest star Angie Dickinson. The festival runs January 20th through the 29th and promises to be the darkest and most delirious incarnation yet of San Francisco’s own NOIR CITY.

Among the rarities being presented this year: a brand new 35mm print of 1949′s The Great Gatsby, starring Alan Ladd as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary lovelorn hero. The film has been buried for decades, but producer Eddie Muller’s perseverance convinced Universal Pictures to strike a preservation print for NOIR CITY. The studio also is providing a brand new 35mm print of 1954′s Naked Alibi, starring noir’s favorite bad girl, Gloria Grahame. The Film Noir Foundation has also funded a new 35mm preservation of the “lost” 1946 classic Three Strangers, which had no viewable prints and has never been released on DVD. NOIR CITY is also proud to have been chosen to premiere the Film Foundation’s recently completed preservation of the superb 1950 Michael Curtiz film The Breaking Point, starring John Garfield.

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NAKED ALIBI – Gloria Grahame as the border town girl, “Marianna”

THE SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY, January 20th
DARK PASSAGE – 1947, Warner Bros. 106 min.
7:00 PM
This year’s festival opens with Bogart and Bacall’s darkest duet, a bizarre ramble through nocturnal 1940′s San Francisco, as an escaped con pursues the real culprit in his wife’s murder. Startling use of the subjective-eye camera focuses on the mid-20th century city in all its noir glory. A 10th anniversary encore of NOIR CITY’s inaugural Opening Night film. Screenplay and direction by Delmer Daves, based on the novel by David Goodis.

THE HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL – 1951, 20th Century-Fox, 93 min.
9:30 PM
A WWII concentration camp survivor (Valentina Cortese) trades identities with a doomed camp-mate and winds up living a luxurious lie in a mysterious mansion above North Beach. Her romantic attachments soon turn suspicious, sinister, and deadly. A classic “woman in jeopardy” thriller, shot entirely on location in the city, and a time capsule of postwar San Francisco. Screenplay by Elich Moll & Frank Partos, from a novel by Dana Lyon. Directed by Robert Wise.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Friday, 1/20

SATURDAY, January 21st – Matinees
OKAY, AMERICA – 1932, Universal, 78 min.
1:00, 4:00 PM Matinee
A hugely popular radio “columnist” (Lew Ayres), clearly based on the legendary Walter Winchell, uses his influence to manipulate both sides of the law while investigating a kidnapping that leads all the way to the White House. A wildly entertaining Pre-Code exposé on the greasy relationship between politicians, organized crime, and the burgeoning American media. Screenplay by William Anthony McGuire. Directed by Tay Garnett.

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LEW AYRES – as “Larry Wayne”

AFRAID TO TALK – aka THE MERRY GO-ROUND
1932, Universal, 69 min.
2:40 PM Matinee
Gansgters and politicians, worried their allegiances will be revealed, conspire to destroy an innocent bellhop (Eric Linden) who witnesses a murder in the penthouse suite. A scathing, uncompromising, and still timely look at the corruption inherent in American big city politics. Indelible performances from a cast, headed by Louis Calhern and Edward Arnold. Screenplay by Albert Maltz and George Sklar, based on their play. Directed by Edward L. Cahn.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Saturday, January 21st Matinees

SATURDAY, January 21st – Evening
In Person – Angie Dickinson
Interviewed onstage by Eddie Muller between films.
THE KILLERS – 1964, Universal, 93 min.
7:00 PM
This hard-hitting remake of Mark Hellinger’s 1946 noir classic was intended as the first “made for TV” feature film, until network execs balked at the film’s amorality and casual brutality. Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager play hit-men obsessed with discovering why their victim (John Cassavetes) accepted his death. The blood-spattered hunt leads through femme fatale Angie Dickinson to … Ronald Reagan! Screenplay by Gene L. Coon, based on the Hemingway short story. Directed by Don Siegel.

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ANGIE DICKINSON – LEE MARVIN

POINT BLANK – 1967, MGM/UA, 92 min.
9:45 PM
A taciturn hitman is double-crossed and left for dead on Alcatraz. But soon he’s relentlessly stalking his betrayers … or is he? One of the most stylish, inventive, and enigmatic films of the ’60s, Point Blank is the high-water mark of existentialist crime cinema, and the greatest of Lee Marvin’s memorable tough guy performances. Costarring Angie Dickinson at her sexiest! Screenplay by Alexander Jacobs, David & Rafe Newhouse. Directed by John Boorman.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Saturday, January 21st Evening

SUNDAY, January 22nd —Tribute to Writer Vera Caspary
LAURA – 1944, 20th Century-Fox, 88 min.
3:00, 5:00, 9:00 PM
The most celebrated movie mystery of all time is, as a bonus, one of the most elegantly perverse films ever produced. Caspary’s story, about a detective (Dana Andrews) who falls in love with a murder victim (Gene Tierney), becomes a lustrous banquet of great performances, direction, Oscar-winning cinematography, and one unforgettable theme song. Utterly mesmerizing. Screenplay by Jay Dratler, based on the Vera Caspary novel. Directed by Otto Preminger.
$10 double feature shows start at 5:00 and 7:00 PM

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DANA ANDREWS — MARGARET LOCKWOOD

BEDELIA – 1946, General Film Distributors | BFI, 90 min.
7:00 PM
Caspary’s much-anticipated follow-up to Laura is hardly known, as the author’s bitterness toward Hollywood led her to make the film in England. Margaret Lockwood, queen of British femme fatales, stars as a beguiling woman whom men will literally die for. The rare 35mm print of this neglected gem comes courtesy of the British Film Institute. Screenplay by Vera Caspary, Herbert Victor, Isadore Goldsmith. Directed by Lance Comfort.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Sunday, January 22nd

MONDAY, January 23rd
GILDA – 1946, Columbia, 110 min.
7:00 PM
Rita Hayworth created her Hollywood “Love Goddess” legend in this tailor-made romantic drama, first of several sex-charged pairings with costar Glenn Ford. The film’s amazing sexual symbolism slipped past the censors (and most viewers) at the time; today the film is regarded as one of the greatest examples of a director “working around” the Production Code. Screenplay by Marion Parsonnet; adaptation by Jo Eisinger; story by E.A. Ellington. Directed by Charles Vidor.

THE MONEY TRAP – 1965, MGM/WB, 91 min.
9:20 PM
Twenty years after steaming up the screen in Gilda, Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth were reunited, poignantly, in this ’60s-style homage to old-school film noir. Director Burt Kennedy gives a hard, jazzy edge to the proceedings, winking toward the film’s 1940′s roots, while giving the full ’60s-style sex-bomb treatment to costar Elke Sommer. Screenplay by Walter Bernstein, from the novel by Lionel White.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Monday, January 23rd

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RITA HAYWORTH — LINDA DARNELL

TUESDAY, January 24th
UNFAITHFULLY YOURS – 1948, 20th Century-Fox, 105 min.
7:00 PM
As film noir swept over late ’40s Hollywood, Preston Sturges created the full-length first parody of the style with this mordantly hilarious tale of a jealous orchestra conductor (Rex Harrison) envisioning plots to murder his supposedly unfaithful wife (Linda Darnell). Turning The Postman Always Rings Twice into uproarious comedy takes only a few tweaks and twists for this brilliant and genuine auteur. Written and directed by Preston Sturges.

THE GOOD HUMOR MAN – 1950, Columbia [Sony], 80 min.
9:15 PM
Jack Carson stars as a driver for the Good Humor Ice Cream Company, in over his head when he tries to save a gal-pal from gangsters and ends up accused of murder. A typical thriller from ace noir scribe Roy (The Fugitive) Huggins—except the final screenplay is by comedy genius Frank Tashlin, whose hilariously inspired high-jinks play havoc with film noir conventions. Costarring Lola Albright, Jean Wallace, and George “Superman” Reeves. Directed by Lloyd Bacon.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Tuesday, January 24th

WEDNESDAY, January 25th
HOUSE OF BAMBOO – 1955, 20th Century-Fox, 104 min.
7:30 PM
An military investigator (Robert Stack) infiltrates a gang of American ex-GIs (led by menacing and sexually ambiguous Robert Ryan) muscling in on the Japan’s Yakuza underworld. Fuller’s re-do of Fox’s The Street With No Name is a visual spectacle, with stunning Technicolor and Cinemascope giving extra dimension to the director’s singularly no-holds-barred style. Re-written and directed by Samuel Fuller, from Harry Kleiner’s original screenplay.

UNDERWORLD USA – 1961, Columbia [Sony], 99 min.
9:20 PM
Young Tolly Devlin witnesses a trio of hoodlums murder his father’s murder. As an adult ex-con, Devlin (Cliff Robertson) dedicates himself to exterminating the three culprits—now big-shot crime figures. One of Fuller’s punchiest smash-mouth crime dramas, presenting the war between the law and organized crime as backdrop for a searing personal vendetta. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Wednesday, January 25th

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HOUSE OF BAMBOO – PICKUP

THURSDAY, January 26th
NAKED ALIBI – 1954, Universal, 86 min.
7:30 PM
A murder suspect (Gene Barry), released for lack of evidence, vows vengeance on the cops who brutalized him. When one of those cops turns up dead, his partner (Sterling Hayden) hunts down the “innocent” man to prove him guilty. Both end up in thrall to border town bad girl Gloria Grahame, whose unique sexiness is on full display in this ultra-rare potboiler! Screenplay by Lawrence Roman, from a story by Gladys Atwater & Robert Bren. Directed by Jerry Hopper. Brand New 35mm Print!

PICKUP – 1951, Columbia [Sony] 78 min.
9:20 PM
A simple but supremely smarmy slice of sleaze from 1950′s sex-noir auteur Hugo Haas. He plays (as usual) an older man in thrall to a young hottie who spends all her time trying to murder him for what little money he has. A timeless tale, made unforgettable by the Amazon in the bullet-bra, slinging sass for all she’s worth—Beverly (Wicked Woman) Michaels! Screenplay and direction by Hugo Haas, from a novel by Josef Kopta.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Thursday, January 26th

FRIDAY, January 27th
THIEVES’ HIGHWAY – 1949, 20th Century-Fox, 94 min.
7:30 PM
One of NOIR CITY’s perennial favorites, presented in a pristine 35mm print! WWII vet Richard Conte drives to San Francisco to sell a load of apples—and get revenge on the crooked broker (Lee J. Cobb) who crippled his father. Shot on-location in the city’s once-thriving Embarcadero produce district, and featuring a terrific performance by Valentina Cortese. Screenplay by A. I. Bezzerides, from his novel Thieves’ Market. Directed by Jules Dassin.

THE BREAKING POINT – 1950, WB/UCLA, 97 min.
9:30 PM
John Garfield gives perhaps his greatest performance as world-weary fishing boat skipper Harry Morgan in this superb and darkly noir adaptation of Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not,” one of the best, if unjustly neglected, films of the noir era. Preservation funding provided by Warner Bros. in association with The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall, from the Hemingway novel. Directed by Michael Curtiz.. Preserved 35mm Print!
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Friday, January 27th

the-great-gatsby
THE GREAT GATSBY – Alan Ladd as “Jay Gatsby”

SATURDAY, January 28th
THE GREAT GATSBY – 1949, Paramount [Universal], 91 min.
3:00, 7:00 PM
Resurrected at long last! This version of F. Scott Firzgerald’s classic novel has been buried for decades, to make way for remakes. Thanks to our friends at Universal Pictures, Alan Ladd’s noir-styled take on the timeless tale of shady success and unrequited love is again available, in a brand new print made exclusively for NOIR CITY! Screenplay by Cyril Hume & Richard Maibaum, from a play by Owen Davis, based on Fitzgerald’s novel. Directed by Elliott Nugent. Preserved 35mm print!
$10 double feature shows start at 1:00 and 3:00 PM

THREE STRANGERS – 1946, Warner Bros., 92 min.
1:00, 5:00, 9:00
Noir strays into the supernatural realm in this fantastic tale of three strangers (Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Geraldine Fitzgerald) whose fates entwine with a mysterious Chinese idol and a winning lottery ticket. Deeply cynical, gloriously atmospheric. Never on DVD, almost lost in 35mm, we proudly present this forgotten classic in a brand new FNF-funded preservation print! Screenplay by John Huston and Howard Koch. Directed by Jean Negulesco.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Saturday, January 28th

SUNDAY, January 29th — ALL-DAY DASHIELL HAMMETT MARATHON
Matinee Features:
ROADHOUSE NIGHTS – 1930, Paramount [Universal], 68 min.
12:00 PM
This ultra-rare film—the first based on a Hammett book—is nominally taken from the author’s classic gang-war novel Red Harvest, which proved too brutal and cynical even for pre-Code Hollywood. What’s left is a merrily fun action-comedy starring Helen Morgan, Charles Ruggles, and Jimmy Durante. Screenplay by Garrett Fort; story by Ben Hecht, from the Hammett novel Red Harvest. Directed by Hobert Henley.

THE MALTESE FALCON – 1931, Warner Bros., 80 min.
1:20
No Humphrey Bogart here! This is the first cinematic version, produced the year after Hammett’s landmark novel was published. This pre-Code adaptation flaunts a much sexier tone than John Huston’s more famous 1941 version. Some Hammett fans even prefer it. Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels star as Spade and Brigid. Screenplay by Maude Fulton & Brown Holmes, from the Hammett novel. Directed by Roy Del Ruth.

CITY STREETS – 1932, Paramount [UCLA], 83 min.
3:00 PM
Gary Cooper plays a carny sharpshooter who goes crooked in order to free his love (Sylvia Sidney) from prison. The only story Hammett wrote specifically for the screen, it is brilliantly realized by director Rouben Mamoulian and legendary cameraman Lee Garmes. Restored print courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive. Screenplay by Oliver H. P. Garrett, adapted by Max Marcin, from a story by Dashiell Hammett.

MR. DYNAMITE – 1935, Universal, 67 min.
4:45 PM
Originally conceived as a second “Sam Spade” novel, Mr. Dynamite would end up being the most rarely-seen of all films based on the author’s work. Edmund Lowe stars as a disreputable private dick hired by a gambler to solve a murder within the casino. Archival print courtesy of Universal Pictures! Screenplay by Doris Malloy & Harry Clork, from a story by Dashiell Hammett. Directed by Alan Crosland.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Sunday Matineee, 1/29

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GARY COOPER — VERONICA LAKE

HAMMETT MARATHON, Continues:
THE GLASS KEY – 1942, Paramount/Universal, 85 min.
7:00 PM
Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake add glamorous sex appeal to Hammett’s gritty and influential behind-the-scenes tale of the dirty work that goes on in big city politics. Director Stuart Heisler is at his rapid-fire best, eliciting terrific support from dashing Brian Donlevy and thuggish William Bendix. Screenplay by Jonathan Latimer, from the novel by Dashiell Hammett.

THE MALTESE FALCON – 1941, Warner Bros., 100 min.
9:00 PM
NOIR CITY’s 10th Anniversary celebration closes in the proper and righteous way: with an encore screening of the definitive film version of the most influential work of crime fiction ever written … “The stuff that dreams (and a million imitations) are made of.” With legendary performances from Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and S.F.’s own Elisha Cook, Jr. Written and directed by John Huston, from the novel by Dashiell Hammett. Perhaps your last chance to see it in glorious 35mm on a massive movie screen!
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Sunday Evening, 1/29

ricardo-cortez-e28094-bebe-daniels
RICARDO CORTEZ — BEBE DANIELS

As an added 10th anniversary attraction, this year’s festival also features the live event Everyone Comes to Eddie’s: The NOIR CITY Nightclub, a nocturnal celebration of noir style, presented Saturday night, January 28th, at the Swedish-American Hall, 2174 Market Street—converted for one night into a sleek and slightly sinister 1940′s era nightspot. Entertainment will include the sensational song stylings of the city’s own Mr. Lucky, classic torch-song temptress Laura Ellis, internationally renowned burlesque queen Evie Lovelle, and Kansas City’s cutting-edge noir-rockers, The Latenight Callers. Revelers can party like it’s 1949! NOIR CITY Nightclub tickets priced separately. Click here for more information: NOIR CITY

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POP-UP LUNCH BREAK – This Friday at SF Museum of Modern Art


sean-martinfield-18-august-2011

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

On Friday, January 6th, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will transform into a neighborhood lunch break room to celebrate the final weeks of Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break, an exhibition that contemplates workers’ activities during their lunch breaks through film, photography, and writing. From 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in The Schwab Room on the ground level, just off the museum’s Haas Atrium, Rice Paper Scissors—a Vietnamese pop-up café that has taken over warehouses and alleyways and energized the local dining scene—will join SFMOMA mainstays Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and Caffè Museo in selling special menus inspired by the exhibition. Throughout the event, Sharon Lockhart will participate via Skype, and contributors to the Lunch Break Times will be inviting visitors to discuss their various lunch break traditions and stories.

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LUNCH BREAK – still, 2008. Sharon Lockhart

To create Lunch Break, the artist spent a year observing and engaging with blue-collar workers during their daily routines at Bath Iron Works, a naval shipyard in Bath, Maine. This allowed Lockhart to shed her outsider status and establish a level of intimacy and comfort with the workers. As the artist explains, “In all of my projects, I work hard to make the participants partners, so that the exchange is a personal one.” Lunch Break did not materialize without a struggle, however. Lockhart’s first attempts to enter the historic shipyard—the largest private employer in the state and owned by General Dynamics, the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor—were repeatedly rejected by the company. But, after spending time in Bath, she secured a meeting with the local union, which supported her work and successfully lobbied for her access to the factory.

Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break, continues at SFMOMA through January 16th. This latest body of work by Sharon Lockhart, organized by Sabine Eckmann from the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, and overseen at SFMOMA by Curator of Media Arts Rudolf Frieling, will include a large-scale film installation, selected photographs, and a Bay Area edition of the artist’s free take-away newspaper, the Lunch Break Times. Through film, photography, and the print medium, Lockhart reflects on the presence of the individual in the context of industrial labor.

The film depicts the activities of the workers during their midday break at the shipyard. Extending ten minutes of footage into eighty minutes, Lockhart’s camera passes through a long corridor of the factory in extreme slow motion, tracking 1,200 feet of the hallway without panning, zooming, editing, or changing in tempo. The factory workers conduct their normal lunch break routines, some reading, some taking a nap, some in groups and others alone, talking, eating, drinking, and listening to the radio. The depicted space in Lockhart’s film is echoed in the architecture of the gallery installation at SFMOMA, a viewing space designed by Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, and enhanced by a composition of industrial sounds collected from the factory space by filmmaker James Benning and composer Becky Allen.

“The extremely decelerated movement and the swelling soundtrack create anticipation for what is to come, while also establishing a sense of pause that allows the viewer to experience the film more like a photograph or tableau vivant,” Frieling says. “In Lunch Break we can examine details that would be too quickly passed over at the regular speed of film. The viewer’s attention and perception are constantly at work.”

The contemplation of the workers’ activities during their time off from production brings into view an everyday situation that foregrounds the presence of the individual. In contrast, the related photographic series emphasizes the actuality of individual objects, routines, and spaces: stickers on a lunchbox or the makeshift booths where workers sell snacks and various items.

Yet while Lunch Break focuses on day-to-day details, it reflects a much larger contemporary political and economic reality. The project’s attention to the local and to the rarely portrayed experience of the working class take on a particular social and political relevance in the context of global capitalism, war, and economic recession.

SFMOMA will offer visitors a free special-edition newspaper titled the Lunch Break Times, which Lockhart conceived as an artist project to further the dialogue of the Lunch Break exhibition. For this edition of the newspaper, an array of local writers, activists, and artists from Maine and the Bay Area will weigh in on various aspects of the history and current state of industrial labor.

Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break – By Sabine Eckmann
American artist Sharon Lockhart is well known for her formally strict and conceptually precise films and photographs. Lunch Break, her newest solo exhibition, is the product of more than a year spent at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, observing and engaging with the shipbuilders during breaks from their daily routines. The resultant two film installations and three series of photographs present images that are devoid of sentiment yet deeply humane, intimate in their focus on everyday situations while reflective of broader global conditions through their historically grounded approach. The catalog includes over one hundred images in full color, essays by exhibition curator Sabine Eckmann and art historian Matthias Michalka, and an interview with Lockhart conducted by filmmaker James Benning. Click here to order on-line: Lunch Break Catalogue

Related Film Screenings:

Thursday, January 5, 7:00 pm
PINE FLAT – Sharon Lockhart, 2005, 138 min.

Thursday, January 12, 7:00 pm
NO – Sharon Lockhart, 2003, 32 min.
PODWORKA – Sharon Lockhart, 2009, 31 min.

Screenings are held in the Phyllis Wattis Theater, SFMOMA
Tickets: $5 general admission; free with museum admission
Click here for more information: Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break

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JOHN E. BUCHANAN, Jr. – Director of the Legion of Honor and de Young Museum loses battle with cancer

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announces with great sadness the death of John Edward Buchanan, Jr., Director of Museums, on December 30, 2011. Mr. Buchanan passed away at the age of 58 after a battle with cancer.

Said Diane B. Wilsey, President of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Board of Trustees, “The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has lost a dynamic, creative leader whose vibrant energy and humor will be missed by everyone. I, personally, have lost a best friend whose vast knowledge and intellectual curiosity never ceased to amaze me.”

John E. Buchanan, Jr. joined the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) in February 2006. During his six-year tenure, he led the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park to record levels of attendance and membership, increased levels of corporate sponsorship and individual giving, developed a vibrant educational program, including the famed Friday Nights at the de Young Museum and presented an impressive and robust portfolio of critically acclaimed exhibitions.

john-e-buchanan-jr-photo-jennifer-hsuy-famsf1
JOHN E. BUCHANAN, Jr.
Photo, Jennifer Hsuy-FAMSF

Through his extensive global network of private lenders, museum colleagues and foreign governments, Buchanan brought the treasures and masterpieces of the worlds of painting, sculpture, haute couture, decorative arts, antiquities and pop culture to San Francisco. Buchanan’s leadership provided the Museums with exceptional opportunities, including hosting the foremost exhibitions of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the collection of the Musee d’Orsay in 2011, and contributing to an internationally successful exhibition program, among which included the haute couture craftsmanship of Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristobal Balenciaga.

Under Buchanan’s six-year stewardship the Museums welcomed over 11.9 million visitors, presented over 100 special exhibitions rooted in the depth and diversity of the museums’ permanent collections, oversaw the publication of 31 exhibition catalogues and collection-based publications, and increased the museums’ membership to 122,000 households. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have the third largest membership in the nation, are the fourth most visited art museums in North America and are the fourteenth most visited museums in the world.

Buchanan’s previous positions included serving as executive director of the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon (1994–2005), director of Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee (1986–1994) and executive director of the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, Illinois (1982–1986).

Mr. Buchanan is survived by his wife Lucy Matthews Buchanan of San Francisco, and his uncle Louis Buchanan and aunt Edith Buchanan McCoy, both of Nashville, Tennessee.

Funeral services in Nashville, Tennessee are private. A memorial service in San Francisco will be held at a later date. At the family’s request, donations can be made in memory of John Edward Buchanan, Jr. to:

The Director’s Discretionary Fund at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, attention: Sabina Crivello, de Young Museum, 50 Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, or call (415) 750-3687

In support of the research of Dr. Andrew Ko (research fund B2098), UCSF Medical Center, attention: Sarah Krumholz, UCSF, 220 Montgomery Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA. 94104, or call (415) 502-1899

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NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY – Selects 25 Films for Preservation

2011 selections include Bambi, Silence of the Lambs, The Kid, and War of the Worlds

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” That line was immortalized by Tom Hanks in the award-winning movie “Forest Gump” in 1994. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today selected that film and 24 others to be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Spanning the period 1912-1994, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, animation, home movies, avant-garde shorts and experimental motion pictures. Representing the rich creative and cultural diversity of the American cinematic experience, the selections range from Walt Disney’s timeless classic “Bambi” and Billy Wilder’s “The Lost Weekend,” a landmark film about the devastating effects of alcoholism, to a real-life drama between a U.S. president and a governor over the desegregation of the University of Alabama. The selections also include home movies of the famous Nicholas Brothers dancing team and such avant-garde films as George Kuchar’s hilarious short “I, an Actress.” This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 575.

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FORREST GUMP, 1994 — Tom Hanks

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. “These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” said Billington. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”

Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,228 films were nominated) and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB). The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at NFPB’s website: National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings.

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BAMBI, 1942

“You can call me Flower, if you want to.”

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions.

Films selected for the 2011 National Film Registry

Allures (1961)
Called the master of “cosmic cinema,” Jordan Belson excelled in creating abstract imagery with a spiritual dimension that featured dazzling displays of color, light, and ever-moving patterns and objects. Trained as a painter and profoundly influenced by the artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky, Belson collaborated in the late 1950s with electronic music composer Henry Jacobs to create elaborate sound and light shows in the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium, an experience that informed his subsequent films. The film, Belson has stated, “was probably the space-iest film that had been done until then. It creates a feeling of moving into the void.” Inspired by Eastern spiritual thought, “Allures” (which took a year and a half to make) is, Belson suggests, a “mathematically precise” work intended to express the process of becoming that the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin has named “cosmogenesis.”

Bambi (1942)
One of Walt Disney’s timeless classics (and his own personal favorite), this animated coming-of-age tale of a wide-eyed fawn’s life in the forest has enchanted generations since its debut nearly 70 years ago. Filled with iconic characters and moments, the film features beautiful images that were the result of extensive nature studies by Disney’s animators. Its realistic characters capture human and animal qualities in the time-honored tradition of folklore and fable, which enhance the movie’s resonating, emotional power. Treasured as one of film’s most heart-rending stories of parental love, “Bambi” also has come to be recognized for its eloquent message of nature conservation.

The Big Heat (1953)
One of the great post-war noir films, “The Big Heat” stars Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and Gloria Graham. Set in a fictional American town, “The Big Heat” tells the story of a tough cop (Ford) who takes on a local crime syndicate, exposing tensions within his own corrupt police department as well as insecurities and hypocrisies of domestic life in the 1950s. Filled with atmosphere, fascinating female characters, and a jolting—yet not gratuitous—degree of violence, “The Big Heat,” through its subtly expressive technique and resistance to formulaic denouement, manages to be both stylized and brutally realistic, a signature of its director Fritz Lang.

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THE BIG HEAT, 1953 — EL MARIACHI, 1992

A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI (computer generated image) animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film “Futureworld,” Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed.

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963)
Robert Drew was a pioneer of American cinema-verite (a style of documentary filmmaking that strives to record unfolding events non-intrusively). In 1963, he gathered together a stellar group of filmmakers, including D. A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Gregory Shuker, James Lipscomb, and Patricia Powell, to capture on film the dramatic unfolding of an ideological crisis, one that revealed political decision-making at the highest levels. The result, “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” focuses on Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama—his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” confrontation—and the response of President John F. Kennedy. The filmmakers observe the crisis evolve by following a number of participants, including Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Gov. Wallace and the two students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. The film also shows deliberations between the president and his staff that led to a peaceful resolution, a decision by the president to deliver a major address on civil rights and a commitment by Wallace to continue his battle in subsequent national election campaigns. The film has proven to be a uniquely revealing complement to written histories of the period, providing viewers the rare opportunity to witness historical events from an insider’s perspective.

The Cry of the Children (1912)
Recognized as a key work that both reflected and contributed to the pre-World War I child labor reform movement, the two-reel silent melodrama “The Cry of the Children” takes its title and fatalistic, uncompromising tone of hopelessness from the 1842 poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “The Cry of the Children” was part of a wave of “social problem” films released during the 1910s on such subjects as drugs and alcohol, white slavery, immigrants and women’s suffrage. Some were sensationalist attempts to exploit lurid topics, while others, like “The Cry of the Children,” were realistic exposés that championed social reform and demanded change. Shot partially in a working textile factory, “The Cry of the Children” was recognized by an influential critic of the time as “The boldest, most timely and most effective appeal for the stamping out of the cruelest of all social abuses.”

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THE KID, 1921. Jackie Coogan

A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
Largely forgotten today, actor John Bunny merits significant historical importance as the American film industry’s earliest comic superstar. A stage actor prior to the start of his film career, Bunny starred in over 150 Vitagraph Company productions from 1910 until his death in 1915. Many of his films (affectionately known as “Bunnygraphs”) were gentle “domestic” comedies, in which he portrayed a henpecked husband alongside co-star Flora Finch. “A Cure for Pokeritis” exemplifies the genre, as Finch conspires with similarly displeased wives to break up their husbands’ weekly poker game. When Bunny died in 1915, a New York Times editorial noted that “Thousands who had never heard him speak…recognized him as the living symbol of wholesome merriment.” The paper presciently commented on the importance of preserving motion pictures and sound recordings for future generations: “His loss will be felt all over the country, and the films, which preserve his humorous personality in action, may in time have a new value. It is a subject worthy of reflection, the value of a perfect record of a departed singer’s voice, of the photographic films perpetuating the drolleries of a comedian who developed such extraordinary capacity for acting before the camera.”

El Mariachi (1992)
Directed, edited, co-produced, and written in two weeks by Robert Rodriguez for $7,000 while a film student at the University of Texas, “El Mariachi” proved a favorite on the film festival circuit. After Columbia Pictures picked it up for distribution, the film helped usher in the independent movie boom of the early 1990s. “El Mariachi” is an energetic, highly entertaining tale of an itinerant musician, portrayed by co-producer and Rodriguez crony Carlos Gallardo, who arrives at a Mexican border town during a drug war and is mistaken for a hit man who recently escaped from prison. The story, as film historian Charles Ramirez Berg has suggested, plays with expectations common to two popular exploitation genres—the narcotraficante film, a Mexican police genre, and the transnational warrior-action film, itself rooted in Hollywood Westerns. Rodriguez’s success derived from invigorating these genres with creative variants despite the constraints of a shoestring budget. Rodriguez has gone on to direct films for major studios, becoming, in Berg’s estimation, “arguably the most successful Latino director ever to work in Hollywood.”

Faces (1968)
Writer-director John Cassavetes described “Faces,” considered by many to be his first mature work, as “a barrage of attack on contemporary middle-class America.” The film depicts a married couple, “safe in their suburban home, narrow in their thinking,” he wrote, who experience a break up that “releases them from the conformity of their existence, forces them into a different context, when all barriers are down.” An example of cinematic excess, “Faces” places its viewers inside intense lengthy scenes to allow them to discover within its relentless confrontations emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films. In provoking remarkable performances by Lynn Carlin, John Marley and Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes has created a style of independent filmmaking that has inspired filmmakers around the world.

Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
An expressive, sympathetic look at the everyday lives of young Mexican women who create ornamental papier măché fruits and vegetables, “Fake Fruit Factory” exemplifies filmmaker Chick Strand’s unique style that deftly blends documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques. After studying anthropology and ethnographic film at the University of California, Strand, who helped noted independent filmmaker Bruce Baillie create the independent film distribution cooperative Canyon Cinema, taught filmmaking for 24 years at Occidental College. She developed a collagist process to create her films, shooting footage of people she encountered over several decades of annual summer stays in Mexico and then editing together individual films. In “Fake Fruit Factory,” Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, “the spirit of the people.” “I want to know,” Strand wrote, “really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society.”

Forrest Gump (1994)
As “Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks portrays an earnest, guileless “everyman” whose open-heartedness and sense of the unexpected unwittingly draws him into some of the most iconic events of the 1960s and 1970s. A smash hit, “Forrest Gump” has been honored for its technological innovations (the digital insertion of Gump seamlessly into vintage archival footage), its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump (and what he represents in terms of American innocence) to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era’s traumatic history. The film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Growing Up Female (1971)
Among the first films to emerge from the women’s liberation movement, “Growing Up Female” is a documentary portrait of America on the brink of profound change in its attitudes toward women. Filmed in spring 1970 by Ohio college students Julia Reichert and Jim Klein, “Growing Up Female” focuses on six girls and women aged 4 to 34 and the home, school, work and advertising environments that have impacted their identities. Through open-ended interviews and lyrical documentation of their surroundings, the film strived, in Reichert’s words, to “give women a new lens through which to see their own lives.” Widely distributed to libraries, universities, churches and youth groups, the film launched a cooperative of female filmmakers that bypassed traditional distribution mechanisms to get its message communicated.

Hester Street (1975)
Joan Micklin Silver’s first feature-length film, “Hester Street,” was an adaption of preeminent Yiddish author Abraham Cahan’s 1896 well-received first novel “Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto.” In the 1975 film, the writer-director brought to the screen a portrait of Eastern European Jewish life in America that historians have praised for its accuracy of detail and sensitivity to the challenges immigrants faced during their acculturation process. Shot in black-and-white and partly in Yiddish with English subtitles, the independent production, financed with money raised by the filmmaker’s husband, was shunned by Hollywood until it established a reputation at the Cannes Film Festival and in European markets. “Hester Street” focuses on stresses that occur when a “greenhorn” wife, played by Carol Kane (nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal), and her young son arrive in New York to join her Americanized husband. Silver, one of the first women directors of American features to emerge during the women’s liberation movement, shifted the story’s emphasis from the husband, as in the novel, to the wife. Historian Joyce Antler has written admiringly, “In indicating the hardships experienced by women and their resiliency, as well as the deep strains assimilation posed to masculinity, ‘Hester Street’ touches on a fundamental cultural challenge confronting immigrants.”

I, an Actress (1977)
Underground filmmaker George Kuchar and his twin brother Mike began making 8mm films as 12-year-old kids in the Bronx, often on their family’s apartment rooftop. Before his death in 2011, George created over 200 outlandish low-budget films filled with absurdist melodrama, crazed dialogue and plots, and affection for Hollywood film conventions and genres. A professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Kuchar documented his directing techniques in the hilarious “I, an Actress” as he encourages an acting student to embellish a melodramatic monologue with increasingly excessive gestures and emotions. Like most of Kuchar’s films, “I, an Actress” embodies a “camp” sensibility, defined by the cultural critic Susan Sontag as deriving from an aesthetics that valorizes not beauty but “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” Filmmaker John Waters has cited the Kuchars as “my first inspiration” and credited them with giving him “the self-confidence to believe in my own tawdry vision.”

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THE IRON HORSE, 1924. George O’Brien (center) as “Davy Brandon”

The Iron Horse (1924)
John Ford’s epic Western “The Iron Horse” established his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors. Intended by Fox studios to rival Paramount’s 1923 epic “The Covered Wagon,” Ford’s film employed more than 5,000 extras, advertised authenticity in its attention to realistic detail, and provided him with the opportunity to create iconic visual images of the Old West, inspired by such master painters as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. A tale of national unity achieved after the Civil War through the construction of the transcontinental railroad, “The Iron Horse” celebrated the contributions of Irish, Italian and Chinese immigrants although the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country legally was severely restricted at the time of its production. A classic silent film, “The Iron Horse” introduced to American and world audiences a reverential, elegiac mythology that has influenced many subsequent Westerns.

The Kid (1921)
Charles Chaplin’s first full-length feature, the silent classic “The Kid,” is an artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy. The tale of a foundling (Jackie Coogan, soon to be a major child star) taken in by the Little Tramp, “The Kid” represents a high point in Chaplin’s evolving cinematic style, proving he could sustain his artistry beyond the length of his usual short subjects and could deftly elicit a variety of emotions from his audiences by skillfully blending slapstick and pathos.

The Lost Weekend (1945)
A landmark social-problem film, “The Lost Weekend” provided audiences of 1945 with an uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, the film melded an expressionistic film-noir style with documentary realism to immerse viewers in the harrowing experiences of an aspiring New York writer willing to do almost anything for a drink. Despite opposition from his studio, the Hays Office and the liquor industry, Wilder created a film ranked as one of the best of the decade that won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Direction, Screenplay and Actor (Ray Milland), and established him as one of America’s leading filmmakers.

The Negro Soldier (1944)
Produced by Frank Capra’s renowned World War II U.S. Army filming unit, “The Negro Soldier” showcased the contributions of blacks to American society and their heroism in the nation’s wars, portraying them in a dignified, realistic, and far less stereotypical manner than they had been depicted in previous Hollywood films. Considered by film historian Thomas Cripps as “a watershed in the use of film to promote racial tolerance,” “The Negro Soldier” was produced in reaction to instances of discrimination against African-Americans stationed in the South. Written by Carlton Moss, a young black writer for radio and the Federal Theatre Project, directed by Stuart Heisler, and scored by Dmitri Tiomkin, the film highlights the role of the church in the black community and charts the progress of a black soldier through basic training and officer’s candidate school before he enters into combat. It became mandatory viewing for all soldiers in American replacement centers from spring 1944 until the war’s end.

Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-1940s)
Fayard and Harold Nicholas, renowned for their innovative and exuberant dance routines, began in vaudeville in the late 1920s before headlining at the Cotton Club in Harlem, starring on Broadway and performing in Hollywood films. Fred Astaire is reported to have called their dance sequence in “Stormy Weather” (1943) the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. Their home movies capture a golden age of show business—with extraordinary footage of Broadway, Harlem and Hollywood—and also document the middle-class African-American life of that era, images made rare by the considerable cost of home-movie equipment during the Great Depression. Highlights include the only footage shot inside the Cotton Club, the only footage of famous Broadway shows like “Babes in Arms,” home movies of an all African-American regiment during World War II, films of street life in Harlem in the 1930s, and the family’s cross-country tour in 1934.

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THE NEGRO SOLDIER, 1944 — SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, 1991

Norma Rae (1979)
Highlighted by Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance, “Norma Rae” is the tale of an unlikely activist. A poorly-educated single mother, Norma Rae Webster works at a Southern textile mill where her attempt to improve working conditions through unionization, though undermined by her factory bosses, ultimately succeeds after her courageous stand on the factory floor wins the support of her co-workers. The film is less a polemical pro-union statement than a treatise about maturation, personal willpower, fairness and the empowerment of women. Directed by Martin Ritt, “Norma Rae” was based on the real-life efforts of Crystal Lee Sutton to unionize the J. P. Stevens Mills in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., which finally agreed to allow union representation one year after the film’s release.

Porgy and Bess (1959)
Composer George Gershwin considered his masterpiece “Porgy and Bess” to be a “folk opera.” Gershwin’s score reflected traditional songs he encountered in visits to Charleston, S.C., and in Gullah revival meetings he attended on nearby James Island. Controversy has stalked the production history of the opera that Gershwin created with DuBose Heyward, who had written the original novel and play (with his wife Dorothy) and penned lyrics with Gershwin’s brother Ira. The lavish film version was produced in the late 1950s as the civil rights movement gained momentum and a number of African-American actors turned down roles they considered demeaning. Harry Belafonte, who refused the part of Porgy, explained, “in this period of our social development, I doubt that it is healthy to expose certain images of the Negro. In a period of calm, perhaps this picture could be viewed historically.” Dissension also resulted when producer Samuel Goldwyn dismissed Rouben Mamoulian, who had directed the play and musical on Broadway, and replaced him with Otto Preminger. Produced in Todd-AO, a state-of-the-art widescreen and stereophonic sound recording process, with an all-star cast that included Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll, “Porgy and Bess,” now considered an “overlooked masterpiece” by one contemporary scholar, rarely has been screened in the ensuing years.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins and director Jonathan Demme won accolades for this chilling thriller based upon a book by Thomas Harris. Foster plays rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling who must tap into the disturbed mind of imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to aid her search for a murderer and torturer still at large. A film whose violence is as much psychological as graphic, “Silence of the Lambs”—winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay—has been celebrated for its superb lead performances, its blending of crime and horror genres, and its taut direction that brought to the screen one of film’s greatest villains and some of its most memorable imagery.

Stand and Deliver (1988)
Based on a true story, “Stand and Deliver” stars Edward James Olmos in an Oscar-nominated performance as crusading educator Jaime Escalante. A math teacher in East Los Angeles, Ca., Escalante inspired his underprivileged students to undertake an intensive program in calculus, achieve high test scores, and improve their sense of self-worth. Co-produced by Olmos and directed by Cuban-born Ramón Menéndez, “Stand and Deliver” became one of the most popular of a new wave of narrative feature films produced in the 1980s by Latino filmmakers. The film celebrates in a direct, approachable, and impactful way, values of self-betterment through hard work and power through knowledge.

Twentieth Century (1934)
A satire on the theatrical milieu and its oversized egos, “Twentieth Century” marked the first of director Howard Hawks’ frenetic comedies that had leading actors of the day “make damn fools of themselves.” In Hawks’ words, the genre became affectionately known as “screwball comedy.” Hawks had writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who penned the original play, craft dialogue scenes in which lines overlapped as in ordinary conversations, but still remained understandable, a style he continued in later films. This sophisticated farce about the tempestuous romance of an egocentric impresario and the star he creates did not fare well on its release, but has come to be recognized as one of the era’s finest film comedies, one that gave John Barrymore his last great film role and Carole Lombard her first.

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TWENTIETH CENTURY, 1934 — WAR OF THE WORLDS, 1953

War of the Worlds (1953)
Released at the height of cold-war hysteria, producer George Pal’s lavishly-designed take on H. G. Wells’ 1898 novel of alien invasion was provocatively transplanted from Victorian England to a mid-20th-century Southern California small town in this 1953 film version. Capitalizing on the apocalyptic paranoia of the atomic age, Barré Lyndon’s screenplay wryly replaces Wells’ original commentary on the British class system with religious metaphor. Directed by Byron Haskin, formerly a special effects cameraman, the critically and commercially successful film chronicles an apparent meteor crash discovered by a local scientist (Gene Barry) that turns out to be a Martian spacecraft. Gordon Jennings, who died shortly before the film’s release, avoided stereotypical flying saucer-style creations in his Academy Award-winning special effects described by reviewers as soul-chilling, hackle-raising and not for the faint of heart.

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“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)

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“Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien” – At Davies Symphony Hall, Featuring Damian Smith of SF Ballet, January 12th–14th

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) will lead the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in Claude Debussy’s rarely performed complete original music for Le martyre de Saint Sébastien January 12th–14th at Davies Symphony Hall. The concerts will feature performances by soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke and Leah Wool, and Frederica von Stade as narrator. For this production, the SFS’s performance of Debussy’s sweeping score will be accompanied by a newly created multi-media treatment by imaginative, critically acclaimed director-designer Anne Patterson that features projected visuals and staged elements meant to bring the pageant-like, gothic, nature of the work to life. The featured vocalists will perform in costumes of Patterson’s design. Janáček’s Sinfonietta, last performed by MTT and the SFS in 1999, opens the concerts.

saint-sebastian-e28093-detail-mantegna-1457e2809359
SAINT SÉBASTIEN. Andrea Mantegna (1457–59)

Debussy composed the music for Le martyre de Saint Sébastien in 1911, the same year as the San Francisco Symphony’s founding.  At the debut, the music accompanied a five-act play depicting the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. For the SFS concerts the orchestra will perform the music in a presentation specifically designed for concert performances and sanctioned by the play’s author, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and composer Claude Debussy. The orchestra will perform Debussy’s score with selected passages from the play recited by narrator Frederica von Stade.

Click here to order tickets on-line: MTT Conducts Debussy

Le martyre de Saint Sébastien was written as a vehicle for the Russian ballerina and Belle Époque figure Ida Rubinstein, a colorful member of the Ballet Russe and the muse of numerous visual artists and musicians. In the spirit of the original ballet, for MTT and the SFS’ performances, video of a dancer performing new original choreography will be projected onto custom-made screens of a special, string-like material above the Davies Symphony Hall stage. Choreography for the pre-recorded projection will be created by Myles Thatcher, a member of the San Francisco Ballet Corps de Ballet and choreographer known for the experimental silent-film comedy The Glitter Emergency.

damian-smith-photo-davis-allen
DAMIAN SMITH. Photo, Davis Allen

It will be danced by San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Damian Smith. MTT conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a highly-acclaimed recording of Debussy’s complete work in 1993, and led the last SFS performances during his first season as Music Director in 1995. Saint Sebastian, a Christian martyr venerated in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is said to have been killed during Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. Sebastian was a head archer who was shot to death by his own troop of archers, an image often represented in Renaissance paintings many of which depict his piercing with an erotic charge.

MTT shares his enthusiasm for the music and the story of Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien:

“The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian is one of my favorite pieces,” says Michael Tilson Thomas.  “It’s an incredible mixture of beautiful harmonies, soaring voices, lush orchestral landscapes, and the spoken word…Every time I come back to this piece, I feel hypnotized being inside of it again. It is somehow touching, heartbreaking, haunting, and uses very simple ideas in the orchestra with a kind of glowing hue to take you from the quiet prelude to a dazzling climax when the saint enters into heaven. What could be better?”

Soprano Karina Gauvin made her SFS debut in May 2011 in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is a frequent collaborator with the SFS who last appeared with the orchestra in Mozart’s Requiem and Feldman’s Rothko Chapel in February 2011.  Mezzo-soprano Leah Wool makes her debut with MTT and the Orchestra in these performances. She was soloist in the SFS Chorus’ performances of Duruflé’s Requiem in May 2011. Narrator Frederica von Stade has had a storied career as a mezzo-soprano, appearing many times with the SFS Orchestra since her debut in 1975.

karina-gauvin-and-sasha-cooke
KARINA GAUVIN and SASHA COOKE

leah-wool-and-frederica-von-stade
LEAH WOOL and FREDERICA VON STADE

Anne Patterson is a visual artist, designer and director based in New York City.  Her innovative strategy of integrating scenic, lighting, and projection elements within the traditional symphonic hall is revolutionizing the concert experience. Her creations have been seen by audiences at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls at Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, and Arena Stage. She has designed fourteen operas, including one world premiere and three US premieres for the Aspen Music Festival. Patterson’s sculptures and paintings are in public and private collections in the United States and London. In 2006 she collaborated with composer Mason Bates to create Mercury Soul, first performances held in San Francisco in February 2008 and May 2009 featuring musicians from the San Francisco Symphony. This is her first artistic partnership with MTT.

Projections are created by New York-based Adam Larsen who has designed images for Hal Prince’s LoveMusik (Broadway), The Gospel at Colonus (Herod Atticus, Athens), world premieres of The Women of Brewster Place (Alliance/Arena Stage) and Christmas Carol 1941 (Arena Stage) and recently The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (Ohio Theater) and Love Lies Bleeding, a ballet based on the life of Elton John (Alberta Ballet).  Lighting design is by Brooklyn-based Matthew Frey. He has created lighting designs for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop and Berkeley Repertory Theater.

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CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM – Free Admission, December 25th

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Head to the Contemporary Jewish Museum on Sunday, December 25th to experience CJM Community Day, sponsored by Target, an admission-free fun-for-all extravaganza. In celebration of Houdini: Art and Magic, families can make their own optical illusion spinning tops and enjoy the Magic of Jade with three performances at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm. Museum hours are 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

magic-of-jade-and-harry-houdini
MAGIC OF JADE and HARRY HOUDINI

MEET JADE
The exotic allure of Jade’s magic stems from her Chinese heritage and her childhood on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Jade took the male-dominated world of magic by storm in 1990, when she won first place in the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ World Magic Competition. More importantly, a panel of celebrity judges honored her with the organization’s coveted Gold Medal of Magic, a prize awarded only a handful of times in the competition’s 20-year history. To date, she remains the sole woman to receive this honor. The renown from her win propelled Jade into appearances on foreign and national television. She has performed on the stages of variety theaters in Europe and Canada; luxury cruise lines like American Hawaii and Holland America; and casino revue shows in Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, Biloxi, and Las Vegas. Her impressive list of corporate clients includes Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer, General Electric, and Sony. Click here for more information: JADE

All galleries at CJM will be open with these fabulous exhibitions on view:

Houdini: Art and Magic – includes more than 160 objects including magic apparatus, a recreation of the famous Water Torture Cell, historic photographs, dramatic art nouveau-era posters, theater ephemera, and archival and silent films that allow visitors to fully explore the career and legacy of the celebrated entertainer. Handcuffs, shackles, straitjackets, milk cans, packing trunks – nothing could hold Harry Houdini (1874-1926), the renowned magician and escape artist who became one of the 20th century’s most legendary performers. With a talent for self-promotion and provocation, this immigrant son of a poor Hungarian rabbi rocketed to international fame and grabbed front page headlines with his gripping theatrical presentations and heart-stopping outdoor spectacles – often dangling high above huge crowds or being lowered dramatically into an icy river locked inside a crate.

der-weltberuhmte-world-famous-houdini-1912
Der Weltberühmte (World Famous), Houdini. 1912

“Harry Houdini is extraordinary not just for his spectacular feats, but also for the obstacles he overcame to transform his life,” says Connie Wolf, the Museum’s director. “He was a cultural outsider who became an American icon – an inspiration to millions then and now. His legacy continues to fire the imagination of contemporary artists and countless others and we are thrilled to be sharing his story with Bay Area audiences.”

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Jewish Life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present – From Levi’s blue jeans to the Sutro Baths, Gump’s to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, the story of the Bay Area’s Jewish community is the story of the region itself. The first exhibition of its kind, California Dreaming explores Jewish life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the present and demonstrates how it is informed by the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit of the many Jews who came out West in the booming decades that began with the Gold Rush.

rabbi-mayer-hirsch1
RABBI MAYER HIRSCH
With barrels of Sacramental Kosher wine during prohibition.
Photo, The Bancroft Library

The exhibition features a documentary video offering an array of contemporary stories of Jewish migration to the Bay Area created by award-winning independent filmmaker Pam Rorke Levy, as well as a commissioned series of photographs by local artist and cultural historian Rachel Schreiber that reveals the untold stories of the Jewish community from past to present. The exhibition is a dynamic narrative of events brought to life through hundreds of photographs, documents, ephemera, audio, and video that illuminates the development of the Bay Area Jewish community and illustrates how it has taken on its independent, inventive, and aspirational character over time. Visitors are invited to add their stories and submit photographs to an ever-evolving community photo wall that can be browsed online through the Museum’s website or in the gallery.

Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations – is a musical journey through a unique slice of recording history–the Black-Jewish musical encounter from the 1930s to the 1960s. In contrast to the oft-told story of how Jewish songwriters and publishers of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway transformed Black spirituals, blues, and jazz into the Great American Songbook, scant attention has been paid to the secret history of the many Black responses to Jewish music, life, and culture. From Johnny Mathis singing “Kol Nidre” to Aretha Franklin’s 1960s take on “Swanee,” visitors can learn how Black artists treated Jewish music as a resource for African-American identity, history, and politics.

johnny-mathis
JOHNNY MATHIS. 1959
Photo, Courtesy of The Johnny Mathis Archives

Within a nightclub setting that evokes the 1940s, these songs and more, including rare and unusual recordings, can be heard at the exhibition’s two iPad listening stations. Each station features a curated group of songs arranged around a particular theme. The “Heebie Jeebies” playlist focuses on jive. The “Go Down Moses” playlist features spirituals and soul music inspired by the Old Testament. Liner notes from the soon to be released compilation by the Idelsohn Society of Musical Preservation on which the exhibition is based can be accessed via a special Black Sabbath application on the Museum’s iPads. Visitors can view vintage videos of performances such as a 1966 TV appearance by Danny Kaye and Harry Belafonte singing “Hava Nagila” and Nina Simone singing the Israeli folk favorite “Eretz Zavat Chalav” in Hebrew. And, still images and album covers can be viewed as projections on the soaring wall of the Museum’s Yud Gallery.

Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica – Award-winning San Francisco-based Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects are known for a practice that combines the principles of early modern architecture with the materials, techniques and sensibilities of the 21st century. Raised in a traditional Jewish family in South Africa, Saitowitz has designed private residences, institutions, public and commercial spaces, and religious architecture across the globe. Among the many commissions he has completed during his 30-year career are a number of significant Jewish spaces, including the Holocaust Memorial in Boston and the critically acclaimed Temple Beth Shalom in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica is the result of that life-long thought process. For this project, Saitowitz has been especially interested in how the Jewish traditions of non-figuration mirror the modern movement’s insistence on abstraction. “The objects on view here are a synthesis of these influences,” he says. “The disinterest in ornament and the direct expression of function that modernism sought has always been inherent in Judaic traditions. The structuring of thought as theological and Talmudic, minimalist and dialectical, where ideas and concepts govern laws and actions, is fundamental to modernism. Rigors similar to those of kashrut, which regulate what can and cannot be eaten, and shatnez, prohibiting the unnatural mixtures of materials, are traditional counterparts to contemporary modernist thinking.”

StoryCorps StoryBooth – The Contemporary Jewish Museum, is the first museum in the country to host a StoryCorps StoryBooth. Founded and directed by award-winning radio documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, StoryCorps is the largest oral history project of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has brought together thousands of people from across generational, professional, socio-economic, and cultural divides to share their life stories, history, and hopes. Aired each Friday on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts touch millions by illuminating our common humanity through personal experiences that reflect contemporary American culture.

Bay Area residents and visitors are able to interview important people in their lives in the StoryBooth recording studio, located in the Museum’s Sala Webb Education Center. After their recording session, participants receive a copy of their story, and with their permission, an additional copy is added to the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.

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CD, JAKE SCHEPPS – An Evening in the Village: The Music of Béla Bartók
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JAN WAHL – Joins “The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes” – Live At The Victoria Theatre, 12/23
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DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY XMAS, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre
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MELODY MOORE – Opera Star to Appear with San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in Holiday Concerts
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http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166587
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CALIFORNIA DREAMING – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY – 100th Anniversary Concert, December 8th, at Davies Hall
BERNINI’S MEDUSA – Now at the Legion of Honor through February 12th
“THE ARTIST” – Silents, please! – A masterpiece in B&W, starring Jean Dujardin
THOMAS JANE – An interview with the star of HBO’s “Hung” and 3D Thriller “Dark Country”
THE TEMPERAMENTALS – A Must-See at New Conservatory Theatre Center
MICHAEL CORBETT – SF historian to speak at The Presidio, “The Creation of the Port and the Development of the City
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – Best Show In Town, Now Through December 18th at AT&T Park
CARMEN – Closing the season at San Francisco Opera
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THE PRESIDIO’S HIDDEN PAST – SF’s Oldest Building Reveals Original Adobe Walls
MAHARAJA – The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts, at the Asian Art Museum
KYLE KETELSEN and JANE ARCHIBALD – Featured Soloists in SF Symphony’s Presentation of the Brahms Requiem
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“REAL STEEL” – Reels of money-making crap starring Hugh Jackman
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CD Release: “Feels Like Home”, The Celtic Tenors ★★★★
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“REAL STEEL” – Reels of money-making crap starring Hugh Jackman
LUCAS MEACHEM – Former Adler Fellow to sing “Don Giovanni” at San Francisco Opera
CAMERON CARPENTER – International Superstar Organist plays “Phantom of the Opera” at Davies Symphony Hall, Friday, October 30th
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“ONCE IN A LIFETIME” – A Charming Comedy at A.C.T.
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MEET MAESTRO NICOLA LUISOTTI – San Francisco Opera opens 2011/12 season with Puccini’s “Turandot”
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“HE WHO GETS SLAPPED” – A conversation with composer and pianist Matti Bye
ABEL GANCE’S “NAPOLEON” – San Francisco Silent Film Festival to present complete restoration by Kevin Brownlow in 2012
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HEIDI MELTON – An Interview with “Sieglinde” in San Francisco Opera’s DIE WALKÜRE
MARY GIBBONEY – An Interview with the star of “ABSOLUTELY SAN FRANCISCO”
“DAS RHEINGOLD” – The slippery steps to Valhalla
SONDHEIM’S “ASSASSINS” – Ray of Light Theatre is right-on target
“TALES OF THE CITY” – Totally Sensational, Totally San Francisco
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MELODY MOORE – Soprano shines in SF Ballet’s “Nanna’s Lied”
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AMANDA McBROOM – A conversation on her recording of songs by Jacques Brel
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A Conversation with Ruben Martin Cintas, Principal Dancer with SF Ballet
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“My Silver Dollar Man” – from MARKED WOMAN (starring Bette Davis, 1937)
“Would You Like A Souvenir?” – Sean Martinfield and Janet Roitz explore a song from Film Noir classic NORA PRENTISS (1947)

Continue Reading